Caught Not Bought ~ Stone Crab Grilled Cheese
Everybody loves stone crabs but they’re so doggone expensive. I’ll let you in on a little secret… they’re not that hard to find. If you live near a bridge or a seawall you can go get your own really easily. For free. All you need is a mask, snorkel, flashlight, the willingness to stick your hand into a hole, and the reflexes to pull it out before you lose a finger. Try it sometime. Cruise the seawall and flip some rocks and you’ll have a bucket of claws before you know it.
I’ve eaten many, many stone crab claws in my life and it doesn’t get old. From October 15- May 15 my family can often be found at the dinner table around a big bowl of stone crab claws and some bowls of melted butter and mustard. These meals always begin with an hour or two swim around any number of our Tampa Bay area bridges. Over the years I’ve transitioned some beyond the typical “crack the claw and dip it” method(which I still do often). I’ve made stone crab chowders, stone crab stuffed grouper, stone crab pizza, stone crab mac, and cheese, etc.
One day this past fall I was hungrily swimming around looking for stone crabs as I often do and had a sort of cross between a dream and an epiphany. Like a flash of lightning epiphany. Something so simple, and so duh, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. That afternoon my epiphany was realized in the form of a stone crab grilled cheese sandwich. It came out just like it did in my dream.
This is so simple I feel like I’m insulting the reader by even writing out a recipe but I’ve been on a weird streak of offending a lot of people lately so here goes. Of course, if you’re someone who loves food I’m sure you’ve already considered how this could easily be tweaked by substituting tortillas for bread and making quesadillas.
Ingredients for one stone crab grilled cheese sandwich:
-two stone crab claws
-two slices of bread
-two slices of Havarti cheese(or whatever cheese you like
(If you’re feeling especially crazy you can add a couple slices of bacon and even a tomato slice, that would happen in step 6)
Turn on stove top, obviously.
Bring a small pot of water to boil. Boil stone crab claws for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take them off and put in ice bath. Once cooled, crack the claws by holding them in your palm and smacking them with a spoon. Take out all meat and set aside.
Heat bacon grease in cast iron skillet.
Butter both sides of bread and place each piece buttered side down in the skillet.
Add a slice of cheese to both sides and let it begin to melt.
Add stone crab claw meat and close the sandwich. Cook and flip until you’re pumped with the results.
Eat the sandwich.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. That’s a truth that especially applies to food. Don’t cut corners, do it right. You, your family, and your guests will be all the better for it and eat all the better for it.
Kill and eat,