The best way to do this stuffed crab recipe is in real crab shells, not those pseudo-crab shells made of thick aluminum foil and roughly crab-shaped. Usually the best stuffing is made when you do not pick meat out of boiled crabs, but rather buy pre-processed lump (or claw) crabmeat separately. Then get some washed crab shells from the seafood market (left over after the crabs had been cleaned to use for gumbo), mix the dressing, and stuff it into the shells. Of course, the only way to get real shells these days is to pick and clean them yourself—homemade in other words.
1 lb. lump crabmeat (worth the splurge)
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions (including the green part), finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
4 Tbsp. finely minced flat-leaf Italian parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning
Dash Frank Davis Garlic Hot Sauce (to taste)
2 cups homemade crab or shrimp stock (or bottled clam juice)
1/2 loaf stale French bread, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 cup coarse homemade French bread crumbs
1 cup toasted “mayonnaise breadcrumb”
1 dozen or so reserved crab shells, washed thoroughly
First, heat your oven to 400°F.
Then place 1-1/2 sticks of the butter in a heavy skillet and heat it to “sizzling”, but do not let it burn. When the butter is right, drop in the onions and the celery and sauté them until they fully wilt and clear.
At this point, immediately add the green onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and seafood seasoning and continue to cook over a medium heat until all the vegetables are tender.
Then add the parsley and cook it into the mixture for exactly one minute. Finally, season the ingredients to taste with the Garlic Hot Sauce (just a little, though—don’t overdo it here).
In the meantime, pour the stock into a 3-quart saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add both the bread cubes and the breadcrumbs and mix them together thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Then set the mixture aside to cool.
Now you’re ready to put your stuffing together.
Take 2-1/2 to 3 cups of the moist bread mixture and place in a large bowl, roughly breaking it up with your fingers. Then a little at a time, begin adding in the crabmeat and combining it with the bread mixture—I suggest you use your hands to do this.
I also suggest that if you decide to use jumbo lump crabmeat you blend it into the bread very gently. Remember, you pay a premium price for “lump,” so don't shred it up—leave some lumps!
All that’s left to do now is to pack each crab shell with a generous, heaping amount of the stuffing and top them with the mayonnaise crumbs.
Of course, if you want to achieve maximum richness you can always drizzle a little melted butter over each stuffed crab just before you slide ‘em into the oven!
Finally, place the crabs on a shallow sheet pan and bake them for about 10-15 minutes. Then to lightly toast and brown the crumb topping, run them under the broiler for about 45-60 seconds. . .but be careful: you don’t want the crumbs to burn! Keep a close eye on the broiling process!
I recommend that you plan on serving at least two crabs per person. A pan of bubbly baked macaroni and cheese and a cold, crisp green salad makes for ideal side dishes.
Mayonnaise bread crumbs are made when a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise (not the low-fat stuff!) are whisked in a mixing bowl with the toasted breadcrumbs. Of course, if you’d prefer, you can use melted butter instead of mayonnaise to coat the crumbs but the mayonnaise gives them a richer flavor.
This recipe does have a secret methodology. As you’ve probably noticed, the trick is to “moisten” the bread you use to make the stuffing with crab stock or shrimp stock or bottled clam juice. Oh, you could use chicken stock as a substitute if you wanted to, but the finished stuffing just wouldn’t taste like the real deal. By the way, you can easily make your own homemade crab stock by simmering in a pot of water about a half-dozen or so gumbo crabs that you’ll find at your supermarket. Take my word for it—when it comes to making stuffed crabs, it’s worth the extra effort.
To add the coup de grace, a little spritz of fresh lemon juice over the crab stuffing rounds it all out and tops it all off!