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By Tommy Thompson
Warm up your palate with this spicy crab dip.
Here’s something fancy that’s not hard to make, and is guaranteed to impress even the most serious food critic-spicy hot crab dip.
But first, let’s talk about crabs. For this recipe, we’re talking about blue crabs and not stone crabs, snow crabs, or king crabs. The general term is “blue swimming crabs” and they come from all over the world, especially Southeast Asia and South America. Or you can catch your own or buy them live right here in Florida, boil them, and pick a pound of meat from about fifteen (if you’re a skilled picker). You’ll have a hard time finding picked blue crab meat produced domestically, as crab-picking is a laborious task and Americans and guest workers find other “agricultural” work more profitable. However, imported crab meat is excellent and its production is highly regulated, world-wide.
Your source for good crab meat should be a reputable supermarket or seafood specialty shop. All canned crab meat is pasteurized even after it is cooked and picked and should be displayed at the seafood counter on ice. You’ll have a choice of several varieties, including claw, lump and jumbo lump. Lump and jumbo lump are good for dishes where the appearance of the chunks matter. For dips, like this one, and crab cakes, claw meat is best. It’s not as white as the other grades, but its hearty crab flavor doesn’t get lost under seasonings.
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, separated
Juice and zest of one large lemon
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. (your favorite) hot sauce
1⁄4 tsp. celery salt
1 lb. claw crab meat
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter inside of oven-proof serving dish.
In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Cook the pepper, garlic and shallot until soft, then add flour and cook, stirring to make a light-colored roux (about 3 minutes). Whisk in the cream and let come to a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until thickened.
Remove from heat and add one third of the Parmesan cheese, and the lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, celery salt and hot sauce. Gently fold in the crab meat.
Transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish, then sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the top is browned and the dip is bubbling. Remember, the ingredients, including the crab, are already cooked. Garnish with the scallion slices and serve with pita chips. FS
First Published Florida Sportsman December 2016