First Night Crab

  • Serves

    serves 4


This simple recipe for boiled handpicked crab, from writer Isabel Gillies' mother, welcomes visitors on their first night at the family’s Maine summer house. Warmed in thick cream and served over rice with peas on the side—no salt needed, just a grind of black pepper—it lets the fresh flavor of summer crab really shine. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our June/July 2014 issue with Gillies' story "A Gift from the Sea."


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 lb. jumbo lump or backfin crabmeat
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 12 tbsp. fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 12 tsp. minced dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Cooked white rice, for serving


Step 1

Heat bacon in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until bacon is crisp, 4–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Add garlic and shallot to pan; cook until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add crab and cream; bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat to low and add peas; cook until warmed through, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter, 2 tsp. dill, salt, and pepper. Serve with rice; garnish with reserved bacon and remaining dill.

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