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Crabs and Spaghetti Recipe

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups chopped sweet onion
1 heaping Tbsp. minced garlic
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded, membrane removed (or 1 dried hot pepper pod, seeds removed can be substituted, if desired)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. crushed anise seed
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. sea salt (or more, according to taste, but start out with 2, then taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 (35-oz.) cans crushed San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 (6-oz) can Contadina plain tomato paste
About 24 – 28 oz. water
8-10 fresh or frozen blue claw crabs
1 pkg. (16 oz.) thin spaghetti (Barilla, de Cecco and Buitoni are all good brands)

In large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion; saute for 1 minute. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook the onion for about 5 minutes. Remove lid; add garlic; cook for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients; turn heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cover pot; simmer for 45 minutes. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding more salt if needed. Remove 2 quarts of sauce that you can freeze.

Add crabs, doing your best to get them covered with sauce. Some of the crabs will be partially or completely above the sauce; be sure you rotate so that the ones above the sauce eventually get under the sauce, and vice versa. Cover pot; simmer crabs for 45 minutes, stirring and moving the crabs around as needed. When crabs are nearly done, bring a big pot (5-6 quart) of water to a boil. Add 2 tsp. sea salt and spaghetti. Bring water back to boil, reduce heat slightly and cook according to package directions, stirring frequently. Drain spaghetti through colander and return to pot.

To serve: With tongs, remove crabs from pot and place on a platter. Stir sauce; spoon some over the spaghetti and mix lightly. Now, you have lots of options:

1. Serve a big platter of spaghetti with sauce on top and crabs on another platter.
2. Serve a big platter of spaghetti with sauce and crabs on top.
3. Serve individual plates of spaghetti with sauce on top and crabs served separately.
4. Serve individual plates of spaghetti with sauce and crabs on top.

I opted for #4. This is a messy meal. Instead of napkins, you might want to use a roll of paper towels at the table. First you have to suck the sauce off the crabs, then crack them open and eat them. We covered the table with crab paper, but you can use newspaper. Everyone just puts the picked shells on the table paper. Let me know if you make these, and how they turn out.

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