Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Crab Deviled Eggs, Baltimore Style

It is required that when one returns from the Maryland shore, one bring home pounds of pure, sweet, fresh, picked-by-hand, snow white and succulent Maryland blue crabmeat. At least it's required when that "one" is me. No trip to Maryland is ever complete without bringing home the bounty of the sea...or the bay.

When visiting Annapolis or Baltimore, the bay in question is the Chesapeake. When visiting Ocean City, the bay being referred to is the Assawoman Bay...and yes, there is also the Big Assawoman Bay AND the Little Assawoman Bay. It's an Indian name. Really!

There is a HUGE difference in the quality of fresh crab and the canned, pasteurized variety! ONLY real, honest to God Maryland or Virginia blue crab that is hand-picked, fresh-packed and NEVER pasteurized is what you want. 

If it comes in a can, it isn't fresh, if it comes in a plastic container with a snap-on lid and says Maryland or Virginia crab, that's what you're looking for. 

But be careful! Sometimes you'll find the phrase, "Packed in Maryland" and elsewhere it says it's from Indonesia or China or Vietnam. That's the pasteurized stuff in the can that tries to make you think it's Maryland crab. Packed in Maryland? How do they preserve it over all that distance? Eek! Okay...I'll get off my American blue crab is superior to any other crab soapbox now.

Now that I've brought the good stuff home, do I ever have plans for the crabmeat! Specifically, deviled eggs. CRAB deviled eggs! These are a recreation of a dish I delighted in many (many) years ago when Uncle Harry treated me, my sister, Mom & Dad and my grandmother to a fancy dinner in downtown Baltimore. 

An hors doeuvres cart came by each table at the restaurant offering all variety of tiny bites before dinner...all you wanted. The cart, laden with little treasures of crab, cheese, lobster, shrimp, meats, fruits and vegetables in all sorts of preparations, circled the room and wound its way among the tables all through dinner.

Being a big deviled egg fan, that's what I chose - it was fancy, of course. Instead of sliced horizontally, it stood on end with a zigzag cut across the top and heaps of creamy egg filling with CRAB! Wow. Crab deviled eggs instantly became my favorite deviled egg ever! And that was the very last time I got to experience one. Until Sunday.

My presentation wasn't as fancy - I didn't stand them on end or zigzag the tops - but they were everything I remembered. Smooth, creamy, just a little crunch of celery, spicy with Old Bay and sweet with REAL Maryland crabmeat...crowned with a fat lump of backfin crab and dusted with just a touch more of Old Bay. Heaven.

Here's the recipe. Oh, and Iris? I WILL be making these for YOU!

 Crab Deviled Eggs, Baltimore Style

  • 7 eggs, hardboiled,cooled, shelled, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning, plus extra to dust the tops of the deviled eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, Colmans!
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, Hellmans!
  • 2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Maryland backfin crab, remove any shell and/or cartiledge - In addition, set aside the largest crab lumps from the top of the container to garnish each deviled egg

Carefully remove the yolks from each cooled hardboiled egg half to a small bowl. When all the cooked yolks are in the bowl, mash them very well with a fork until finely crumbled. Sprinkle the mashed yolks with Old Bay, celery and dry mustard. Mix the Worcestershire and mayo together then pour over the egg yolks and seasonings. Mix very well - add more mayo if it seems too thick or more Old Bay if it doesn't seem to have enough spice.

Once the egg mixture is ready, GENTLY fold in 1/2 cup of crab and mix completely without breaking up the crab too much. You don't want the big lumps for this anyway. The reserved big lumps will be the garnish for each egg half once the whites are filled.

Mound the egg crab mixture into the centers of each white, dividing evenly. Garnish with a nice big crab lump and dust with Old Bay. Place each deviled egg half into a deviled egg tray that hold 12 deviled eggs. But there are 2 extra! Put the nicest ones in the dish and the other two are YOURS! Reward time!

NOTE: Notice I used only 1/2 a cup from the container? The rest of the pound - 3/4 pound - went to make the Maryland Corn Jalapeno Crab Imperial I posted yesterday. I made the MOST of that pound of crabmeat!

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