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
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*
A dozen or so reserved crab shells, washed thoroughly, or you may substitute aluminum crab forms if fresh crab shells are not readily available.
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.
Swanson’s Fish Stock is an excellent substitute for crab or shrimp stock in this recipe.