blue crab

To Butter a Crab or Lobstere

Boil your Crabs or Lobsters; and when they are cold, take all the Meat out of the Shels and Body; mince that of the Claws small before you put it together, and add two or three Spoonfuls of Claret, a very little Vinegar, and a Nutmeg grated; then let it boil up till it is thorough hot; then put in some melted Butter, with some Anchovies and Gravy, and thicken it with the Yolk of an Egg or two; when it is very hot, put it into the Shels again, and stick it with Toasts.

From Mary Eales, The Compleat Confectioner, 1742

Buttered Crab (modern)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 2 anchovies, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best but bottle will also work)
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch pepper
  • ½ lb crab meat (approximately 4 or 5 crabs picked with claws)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 pieces toasted bread, whole
  • 1 piece toasted bread cut into four triangles (optional)

In a quart pot, put the first six ingredients (everything but the crab). Over medium heat, allow the butter to melt. Once the butter is melted, stir in the crabmeat. Turn up the heat to medium high, stirring often until the mixture begins bubbling, then turn off the heat. Add the egg yolks and stir well.

Lay the toast on a plate and then spoon some of the crab mixture over the bread. To make it look nice when served, take the toast triangles and place on top of the crab on toast.

This project was developed through a Teaching American History Grant partnership between Anne Arundel County Public Schools, the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and Historic London Town and Gardens.