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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Deviled crab hors d'oeuvres

I did not plan to write a post about this one, but it was SO good and SO easy, I find that I can't resist sharing.  This was, in my opinion, far and away the tastiest part of our Christmas dinner, baking up with a lighter texture than you might expect and just extraordinary flavor.  As it prepped quickly the day before for no-work Christmas Day cooking, the dish falls easily within the purview of this blog :D

The recipe is from (where else?) the Reader's Digest A Family Christmas.  It's a recipe from James Beard, though I've ofc tweaked it to accommodate food allergies and my cooking preferences.  I used scallops instead of shrimp and omitted celery, adding more green pepper and onion in its place.  I chose to use a pound of pre-picked crab claw meat, but if you have access to fresh crab, you can certainly pick your own.  Real crab meat is not a cheap ingredient, but if you can catch a sale this would be a very special treat to make for your family. 

This makes a LOT (a full 1 1/2 quart casserole), especially for appetizers, and you could halve the recipe or freeze it in smaller portions for future cooking.  I'm thinking individual ramekins that you could bake off while making dinner for a quick starter course for 2...that sort of thing.  You can serve it plain, with crackers, on lettuce leaves or, as I did, with thin slices of cucumber.

Deviled Crab
Makes 6 cups (12-16 hearty appetizer servings)

1 lb. crab meat, picked through and drained thoroughly
1/2 lb. bay scallops or salad shrimp, cooked and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped (optional)
2 tbsp parsley, finely minced
1 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
black pepper to taste
2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve), coarsely crushed
3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)
1/4 cup or more milk

Combine crab, scallops or shrimp, onion, green pepper, celery, parsley, mustard, cayenne and black pepper well.  Stir in crumbs, then butter and milk, adding more if needed to make a very moist mixture.  Spoon into a casserole dish or small ovenproof ramekins.  Fridge or freeze well wrapped for later cooking.

To bake off, thaw if frozen.  Let casserole stand at room temp for 15-20 minutes if using a glass or ceramic dish and if it's cold.  Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, until lightly browned on top.  Serve with cuke slices, lettuce leaves or crackers. Pin It

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