Deviled crab is another really old dish, with roots that can be traced back to the Great Depression, another "super cheap" meal people made by combining blue crab and stale bread.
It never fails to amaze me that certain foods we consider pricey used to be "cheap foods." When Thatboy and I were in Carmel last year we saw old menus that had abalone priced at $.25 a piece. Now it's usually a more expensive menu item. The same holds true with crab. Now we consider them a luxury food, made for romantic nights, or special events, but remember what I told you about going crabbing? How it's done with chicken necks? It's a sport that anyone can do, you don't need any equipment other than string and scraps from last night's dinner.
Unfortunately overfishing has cleared out a lot of the marine wildlife and shellfish are no exception. Which obviously raises the price for your average consumer. But you can still get some fabulous deals - keep your eyes open.
I mentioned that normally I recommend cooking live crab, but for these next few dishes I find it easier to buy crab legs, because you get a lot of meat in there with very little work. Stock up when you see a good deal, for me I bought up a ton of clusters when they were $3.99/lb.
Even though this is a "cheap meal" there's something so elegant about eating out of a ramiken. Reminds me of tea parties for some reason. It's especially fancy when served beside a perfect mound of gorgeous bulgur, dotted with shots of vibrant green peas. Bulgur has a lot of the nutritional qualities of brown rice, but for some reason it just seems healthier. I was pleasantly surprised that the deviled crab wasn't too rich or creamy. The cream and butter are mostly absorbed by the bread crumbs and the mustard adds just the right tang.
Ipswich Deviled Crab (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 2 cups crabmeat
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter a gratin pan or 6 ramekins. Combine the mustard, cayenne, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, butter, cream and 1 cup hot water in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.
- Add the crabmeat and salt to taste, and cook 1 minute more.
- Fill the baking dish or ramekins, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup bread crumbs.
- Bake 20 minutes, until the crumbs are lightly browned and the sauce is bubbled.
Bulgur Pilaf (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup bulgur
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 small onion, chopped and sauteed
- 2 cups beef broth
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
- Cook tumeric in the butter.
- Stir in the bulgar and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper, peas, an onion.
- Pour in 2 cups beef broth, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.