Shortly after volunteering to bring baked fontina to a casual New Year’s Eve gathering with the neighbors, fear of becoming a one-trick pony sent me back to the drawing board.
So I scoured my favorite hors d’oeuvres cookbooks and files and pulled out a recipe — Martha Stewart’s hot crab dip — I have been meaning to make since last February when I read The Wednesday Chef describe it as the “number one most delicious thing [she] made over the holidays.” Sounded like a winner.
Over the weekend, I discovered it was. It’s a snap to assemble — sauté shallots in butter, add spices, half-and-half and cream cheese, fold in crab — and it cooks in 20 minutes. I baked off a third of the mixture for Ben and me for lunch, and when that little cazuela emerged from the oven, cheese bubbling through a paprika-speckled surface, we attacked it with crackers, bread and a squeeze more lemon.
Sure, hot crab dip is old fashioned, rich and creamy, spiced with Old Bay and Worcestershire, but it also couldn’t be more festive or delicious: piping hot, loaded with crab, spiced with just enough cayenne to keep you reaching for more. I have no doubt my neighbors will approve of my new party trick.
Friends, I can’t believe another year has passed. Here’s to being many-trick ponies in 2015. Happy New Year, Everyone.
Hot Crab Dip
Yield 8 servings
Source: The Wednesday Chef via Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres Handbook, which is a classic — I've had this book for over 10 years, and every time I open it, I find new inspiration. Watch a video of Martha making the dip here.
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium shallots, minced
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¾ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¾ cup half-and-half
- 8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
- 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater (about 1¾ cups)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 10 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over for cartilage
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into ¼-inch pieces (optional, I skipped this step, but it's probably a nice touch)
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- bread, crackers, toast points for serving
- extra lemon for serving, optional (I like a little extra)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the center. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water and simmer for 30 seconds. Stir in the cayenne, Old Bay, and dry mustard until well combined. Pour half-and-half into saucepan and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk in the cream cheese, a few pieces at a time. When the cream cheese is fully incorporated, whisk in the cheddar cheese, a handful at a time. Stir the mixture for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce; stir to combine. Stir in crabmeat and half (or all — I didn't garnish with any at the end) of the parsley.
- Transfer mixture to an ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle with bread pieces (if using). Dot top of bread pieces with remaining tablespoons butter; sprinkle with paprika. Bake until bread pieces are golden and dip is hot, 18 to 22 minutes — depending on your vessel, it might take less or more time. Once it is bubbly and beginning to look golden, it's done. Garnish with remaining ¼ cup parsley and serve with bread and extra lemon if using.