Recipe Thursdays: Early American Cooking — Soft Shell Crabs

Happy Independence Day! While you spend this holiday reflecting on our Great American past, why not enjoy a recipe from the family of a great American author — Mark Twain? Twain (or Samuel Clemens), his wife Olivia ("Livy"), and their three daughters lived in the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, from 1874-1891. These were perhaps Twain's happiest years, and during that time, he wrote seven major works, including Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

There was always a steady stream of visitors to the Twain home. Food was abundant and the atmosphere lively and inviting. On May 11, 1887, Mark Twain and Mrs. Clemens entertained 10 guests at their home, and Soft Shell Crabs were amongst the many dishes on the menu. Here is the recipe, sourced from Early American Cooking: Recipes from America's Historic Sites by Evelyn Beilenson.

Soft Shell Crabs

Makes 1 serving


4 tablespoons butter
2 small dressed sofshell crabs
Unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Lemon wedges


1. Dredge the crabs lightly with flour. Melt butter in a skillet. Add the crabs.
2. Sauté the crabs over high heat turning occasionally for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove crabs to a warm platter and pour lemon juice into the skillet with the remaining butter.
4. Bring butter to a boil and add parsley. Pour butter and parsley over crabs.
Garnish with lemon wedges.

Interested in more recipes from Early America? Download the ebook to your device.

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