More Small Thanksgiving — Crab and Corn Dip
So here’s something that always struck me as odd. As a Virginian, I’ll argue that the first Thanksgiving feast was held in my adopted commonwealth, but even if you subscribe to the idea that the feast took place in Massachusetts, why on earth is it that seafood and corn are not typically part of the tradition? I can’t imagine that somewhere very early on, the colonists on the east coast didn’t learn from the native Americans about growing corn and harvesting the abundant crabs, oysters, mussels, clams and fish from the readily accessible waters around them. Doesn’t make much sense to me, so when the holiday rolls around, I like to try to incorporate both into the meal somehow. That’s where this crab and corn dip comes into play. It can serve as a great appetizer for guests to enjoy while you’re getting the rest of the meal on the table, or a terrific snack while you’re watching the Packers and the Bears.
This version of the dip is scaled for a small group — three or four diners — but is easy to scale up if you have a larger dinner in the works. Crabs and corn are a truly awesome flavor combination. Add in the silky textures of cream and melted cheese and, well, I can’t imagine a better way to get the most important foodie holiday off to a delicious start. It’s perfect.
The recipe is one that I adapted from a number of sources, including an old Virginia cookbook and a handful of web sites. It’s really pretty simple to make. The only thing to be careful about is the quality of the crab. A lot of the canned crab meat you’ll find comes from places like Thailand, Vietnam or even Venezuela. There may well be wonderful, flavorful crabs in those places, but the stuff they send here is not very good or loses its delicate flavor in the process of canning and shipping. In Virginia and much of the eastern half of the country, blue crabs are king. But there are Dungeness crabs on the west coast, Jonah crabs in New England and relatives of the blue crab across southern waters. Try to find meat from one of them, if you can.
- 12 oz. fresh or canned crab meat
- 3 cups frozen corn
- 1 small shallot, minced OR 1/4 cup red onion, minced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 4 oz. softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese shredded
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced, and 1-2 Tbsp. finely diced red bell pepper for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine all the ingredient, but reserve 1/2 the cheddar cheese. Gently mix well and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grease a ceramic or glass baking dish with butter.
- Scrape the crab dip into the baking dish, top with remaining cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top just begins to brown and the dip is bubbling.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and top with garnishes and serve with chips, crackers or baguette rounds.