I often associate stuffed mushrooms with summer. It may seem illogical but there’s something about the portability of this perfect party appetizer that reminds me of long summer days filled with picnics and barbeques. These mushrooms are baked in the oven but that shouldn’t stop you from trying them on the grill. Tender caps are the perfect vessel for the sweet lump crab mixture reminiscent of salt water bays and blue crab season. Summer will be here soon, I can feel it.
I’m not sure if this recipe exists in one of the many James Beard cookbooks. If I did, I would definitely list the source here. I actually came across this delightfully simple casserole/dip in the Paula Peck stack of unpublished recipes. Since I will usually make any crab recipe I happen to come across, Jim Beard’s Deviled Crab was an obvious must try.
At first glance, I wasn’t really sure what this recipe was. Is it a casserole? A dip? A side dish? I’m still not quite sure. So I’ve decided it can be any one of those things and more, because it’s just that good. One simple description says it all – deconstructed crab cake. Think your favorite part about a crab cake but amplified. Easier to make and the emphasis is on the crab, the real star of the show (and not the often overused mushy breadcrumbs).
Though I’m sure Paula Peck and James Beard exchanged numerous recipes over the years that they cooked and shopped for ingredients together, I wish I knew more about where this recipe came from. I can definitely see similarities in their cooking and it makes me wonder if this was served at one of their many fabulous dinner parties…
Wherever it came from, I’m glad I discovered it and I think you will be too.
1 lb crab meat
1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pick over crab meat and remove any cartilage. Roll or crush crackers and measure correct amount. Preheat oven 350 degrees and butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole or 6-8 individual crab or seashells.
Mix crab meat, crumbs, chopped vegetables, all seasonings, melted butter, and heavy cream together thoroughly. Spoon into casserole or shells and dot the top with a little additional butter. Bake 30-40 minutes or bake individual shells 20 minutes. Serve hot with crudités or crackers.