SOFT SHELL BLT (c) from THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK: Recipes & Traditions from NC's Barrier Islands, by Elizabeth Wiegand, Globe Pequot Press, 2008.
This is a delightful play on the classic Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich. Pancetta is an Italian bacon made from the belly of the pig, salt-cured but not smoked.
You choose whether you grill, fry or saute the soft shells. A gas grill is the easiest and less messy for cleanup. Also choose either a savory mayonnaise or a spicier version.
4 thin slices pancetta or thickly sliced bacon
4 jumbo soft shell crabs, cleaned
4 round, soft sandwich rolls
3/4 cup Creole Sauce (recipe follows)
4 to 8 romaine lettuce leaves or mesclun
4 large slices very ripe tomato
Place the pancetta in a skillet and turn heat medium high. Fry until almost crispy, then drain on paper towels.
Prepare soft shells by either grilling , frying or sautéing.
Meanwhile, place inner sides of sandwich rolls on the grill on under a broiler to toast lightly. Slather with your choice of sauce.
Layer the lettuce, tomato and warm pancetta on each roll. Top with cooked, hot crab, add another dollop of sauce. Serve immediately.
With just a bit of a kick, this sauce adds a sassy finishing touch to crabs, shrimp or grilled fish, and it couldn’t be easier to make.
½ cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons drained capers, chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 generous tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
several grinds black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small serving bowl. Taste for seasonings and adjust.