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Create crab imperial for your new years party and serve it with a bottle of bubbly. photo by Virginia O. McCoy.

December 27, 2012
Five!, Four!, Three!, Two!, One!

Happy New Year!

I am saving the best for the last this new year's eve. Crab imperial and a good bottle of bubbly is my pick as we say so long to 2012. (Hard to believe.)

The recipe combines lump crab with a creamy sauce, lots of finely chopped veggies and just the right amount of spice. Baked to perfection. Served on toast points or crackers.

Crab Imperial

(Stingray's Restaurant, Virginia)

1 stick butter (preferably unsalted), divided

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy cream

1 lb. fresh lump crab meat, picked over for shells

1 cup panko bread crumbs, divided

½ cup finely chopped red pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, divided

2 tablespoons sherry (or white wine)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika, divided

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

assorted breads or crackers for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat five tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook and stir for two minutes, until smooth. Whisk in heavy cream and bring mixture to a low boil. Cook and stir for a few minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in crab, ½ cup of panko, pepper, onion, two tablespoons of parsley, sherry, lemon juice, Worcestershire, ½ teaspoon paprika, dry mustard and cayenne.

Gently mix to combine all ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Spread mixture into a greased pie or quiche dish so the mixture is just a bit over an inch deep.

Or you may divide the mixture into small ramekins for individual servings.

Melt remaining three tablespoons of butter and combine in a small bowl with remaining ½ cup panko, ½ teaspoon paprika and two tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.

Sprinkle topping over crab mixture (s). Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, until mixture is lightly brown around edges and bubbly in the center.

Serve with crackers or toasted breads.

Crab imperial is rich and creamy and full of great flavor. The ingredient list may be long but it is not sophisticated. It's the combination of them together that brings a sophisticated taste to your palate. Perfect with champagne. For sure.

Happy new year from my kitchen to yours.

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