Stuffed Crabs

You rarely see this dish served in real crab shells, these days in restaurants. Current restaurants use pseudo-crab shells made of thick aluminum foil, and roughly crab-shaped. The only way to get stuffed crabs real way, in crab shells, is to make the at home.

The secret to this recipe is to moisten the bread used to make the dressing with heavy cream, crab or shrimp stock. Chicken stock, can be used, but the final dish will lack the seafood flavor.

These make great appetizers. You can serve them as they are, or drizzle with hollandaise sauce as a side dish, or serve three crabs as a main dish with a vegetable.

Makes About One Dozen Stuffed Crabs

Ingredients:
1 pound lump crabmeat
Two sticks unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 small orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 rib celery, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 Tablespoons finely minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper,to taste
Crystal Hot Sauce, to taste
1/2 loaf stale French bread, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 cup homemade French bread crumbs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup homemade crab, shrimp, or fish stock*

Special Equipment:
A dozen or so reserved crab shells, washed thoroughly, or you may substitute aluminum crab forms if fresh crab shells are not readily available.

Directions:
Pre heat the oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl add the bread cubes, cream and crab stock and set aside to soak.

Heat 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of the butter and heat in a heavy skillet. When the butter is sizzling, sauté the onions, and the celery until the onions begin to brown. Add the green onions, garlic, salt and the bell peppers and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the parsley and cook for one minute. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce.

Add the vegetable mixture and bread crumbs to the soaked the bread cubes and mix very thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary, with salt and pepper. Take 2-1/2 to 3 cups of the bread mixture and place in a large bowl, breaking it up with your fingers. Add the crabmeat (which has been picked over for cartilage and shell bits) and use your hands to combine it with the bread mixture, very carefully leaving large lumps of crabmeats.

Stuff each crab shell or aluminum crab form with a generous amount of the stuffing. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over each mount of stuffing. Bake for about 10 minutes, and if you like turn on the broiler for the last 30-60 seconds, so that the bread crumbs will toast slightly. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Note:

Swanson’s Fish Stock is an excellent substitute for crab or shrimp stock in this recipe.

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Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites

Ingredients:
For the Macaroni:
6 strips bacon
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 quart milk
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups  Gruyere cheese, grated
2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 Scallions, thinly sliced

For the Breading:
2 eggs
2½ cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:
Add pasta to large pot of boiling salted water and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

In a medium cast iron skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until golden and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Chop the bacon. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the cheeses, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, Add the cooked macaroni, bacon, lobster, scallions and  parsley and stir well, to combine.

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Coat a 9×9-inch pan with cooking spray. Pour the macaroni mixture into the pan and freeze for several hours.Alternatively you can spray a non reactive bowl with vegetable spray and pour the macaroni mixture into the bowl and chill for several hours in the refrigerator.


Setting up the breading station

In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Set aside. In a second bowl, place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and salt. Mix well and set aside. In a third bowl, place the flour.

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Breading station

 

 

 

 

 

Scoop the macaroni mixture into 2-inch balls. Place first in the flour, turning to coat, then in the egg mixture. Coat with breadcrumbs, then double coat by placing back in the egg and a final coating of breadcrumbs. Place the mac & cheese bites and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

 

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Roll in flour

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Dip in egg wash

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Roll in breadcrumbs

 

 

 
Heat the oil over medium high heat, to about 350 degrees F.

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Mac & Cheese Bites are ready for the oil

 

 

 

 
Gently place in oil and fry until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

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Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Allow to drain for 1 minute.

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Repeat with remaining mac and cheese balls and fry in batches. Return the oil to 350 degrees F between batches. Allow to cool and serve.

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Mac & Cheese Bites are now ready to eat!

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Cook’s Notes:

I used my own homemade cured bacon made with pork belly  that was used in this recipe.

If lobster is not readily available, crabmeat and baby shrimp can be used as substitutes.


Catfish with Green Olives

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This is a family favorite dish. If you are looking for something that is quick and easy to make during a week  night and you are mindful of being healthy on a budget, then this simple recipe is just right  for you !

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, rinsed, drained, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
A squeeze of lemon juice
Four 6-ounce catfish fillets
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, serving

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Main Ingredients

Directions:
Stir together olives, oil, zest ,  2 tablespoons of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice  into a bowl.

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Oil a 12-inch non-stick skillet with a tight fitting lid. Season catfish with salt and pepper and arrange skinless side down in the skillet, tucking thinner ends of each fillet under.

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Mound olive mixture on top of fillets.

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Place a sheet of parchment paper on top of mixture and cover skillet.

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Cook catfish over moderate heat until just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

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