New England Crab Rolls

I know everyone has heard of a lobster roll. The epitome of a stereotypical New England summer, simple, loved by tourists, and oh so expensive. But have you heard of a crab roll? More specifically, have you heard of a Jonah crab roll? What about a peekytoe crab roll? You’ll find both Jonah as well as peekytoe crab scattered all over the menus of seafood restaurants in New England. Not literally, of course.

I believe that peekytoe crab are native to Nova Scotia down through South Carolina, and Jonah is Maine down to Florida… but I could be wrong about those specifics. Either way, both are Atlantic Ocean dwellers. Jonah crabs are reddish in color with black tipped claws, kind of like they dipped the ends in ink. Peekytoe crabs are more of a rust color.

Why am I giving you a lesson about crabs? What does this have to do with the lobster roll I mentioned earlier? Because to a true New Englander, lobster and lobster rolls are just “eh”. Truthfully, tourists eat the most lobster rolls. Something about not being able to go to Maine and leave without having a lobster roll, I suppose. You can spend anywhere from $15 up to $40 on a SINGLE LOBSTER ROLL! Mind you, most summers you can get live lobster at the grocery store for about $4 per pound. Is the hot dog bun really worth the extra $10?

For locals, crab rolls are where it’s at. Jonah and peekytoe crab meat is actually much MUCH sweeter than lobster; no need for butter here! And it’s much cheaper… like, a LOT cheaper. A 1 poiund crab roll will cost you about $10. My preference is Jonah crab, as it tends to be a little bit easier to find no matter where you are and has the sweetest claw meat. But, to each his own.

The point here is to keep it simple. Like a lot of classic New England recipes, the goal is to let the local ingredient shine. So don’t go overboard with the mayo or cayenne. And though it might be  a pain, it’s worth it to let the crab drain for 15 minutes and press it a few times with a paper towel. Trust me. It’ll keep your rolls from getting soggy or tasting watered down, and you’d never want a bunch of crab juice squirting onto your shirt when you take a bit, now would you?!

½ cup mayonnaise
juice & zest from ½ lemon
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound fresh peekytoe OR Jonah crab meat
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 split hot dog buns
4 Bibb lettuce leaves

4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

1. Begin by rinsing the crab meat thoroughly and picking through for any pieces of shell
2. Let it sit in a mesh strainer for about 15 minutes; press a few times with a paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible
3. While the crab is straining, in a bowl whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cayenne pepper
4. Gently fold the strained crab meat and green onion into the mayonnaise mixture; set aside
5. Plug in the Grillet™, place the lid on top and turn the dial to set for 375 degrees. Let it sit with the lid on for 5 minutes to preheat.
6. While preheating, gently open the hot dog rolls without actually ripping them in half; spread some of the butter onto the insides of the hot dog buns
7. Place the hot dog buns, buttered side down, into the Grillet™. Let them toast for about 5 minutes so they are lightly golden brown; be careful to not break the buns in half
8. Use rubber tipped tongs to remove the buns from the Grillet™ and place onto a plate
9. Put a piece of the Bibb lettuce into each of the buns
10. Evenly distribute the crab meat filling into each of the buns. Enjoy!

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