Crab gravy, a family tradition, now available in a jar
My City Paper
It's right about this time of year that summer, humidity and all, starts to look really, really good. Alas, shore-birds, we're still a few months away from 85-and-sunny, but a taste of the summer (of an Italian summer, anyway) can be had at Iannelli's (1155 E. Passyunk Ave.). We told you about their cupcakes last week, now comes the word on their magical crab gravy. Crab gravy is what happens when Atlantic crabs are simmered long and slow in tomato sauce, a tradition at my grandparents' Ventnor flat every summer. Ideally, family fisherman/my cousin Joe Erace traps the crustaceans in the morning, Grandpop Mike preps them in the afternoon and Grandmom Ceil sautes and cooks them through in a bubbling vat of marinara by the time everyone's home from the beach and hungry for dinner. The scuttlers' ocean-y sweetness gives the gravy an uncommon complexity that's irresistible over spaghettini or angel hair with a big pinch of red peppers. (The actual crabs, stingy on meat, are cracked and picked through only after the pasta has been eaten.) It's a process, and no matter how many batches are frozen for winter, it's never enough.