Smith Island Stewed Jimmies

When the dish is complete, the crab meat takes on a whole new flavor from the bacon fat and onions. The potatoes and dumplings soak in all of the flavor from the crab gravy. As the Smith islanders say, it’s not hard to “fill yer belly with a few of these big Jimmies and all of the fixins”.

By & / Photography By Jay Fleming | December 02, 2018

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 4-6 Serving(s)
  • 25 Hard Crabs
  • 6 potatoes, cut in half
  • Bacon Fat
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • Dumplings (use your favorite recipe)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons flour
  • Salt and Pepper

Preparation

Clean the crabs, take off top shell (backs), remove legs, gills and innards, brush the crabs and wash the crab bodies out with a hose. Cleaning the crabs is a messy and time-consuming job - the fall crabs are what the islanders describe as “tough as leather.”

In a large pan, use bacon fat and fry the diced onion. Once onion is cooked, add 1 cup of water, cleaned crabs and potato halves. Cover and cook on med/high heat for approximately 35-40 minutes. Add dumplings after 35 minutes and cook for an additional 10 minutes to heat up. Remove crabs, dumplings and potatoes and add flour to thicken the water to make a ‘crab gravy’. Stir gravy until it thickens.

To eat, pick crabs as if they are hard crabs to get meat out of the body and claws. Smash the potatoes with a fork on plate, mix it in with the crabmeat and dumplings and dump hot gravy on top.

Related Stories & Recipes

Chesapeake Treasure: Stewed Jimmies

‘Stewed Jimmies’ is a traditional fall and early winter dish from Smith island, Maryland, where the love of food and tradition is the common glue for most islanders.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 4-6 Serving(s)
  • 25 Hard Crabs
  • 6 potatoes, cut in half
  • Bacon Fat
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • Dumplings (use your favorite recipe)
  • 3 heaping tablespoons flour
  • Salt and Pepper