Grab some friends and some crabs and get pickin'

features@beaufortgazette.comSeptember 18, 2012 

Long before the first Europeans traveled to the New World, the waters of this area were famed among American Indians.

Some of the finest seafood in the world was available for the taking here. Succulent oysters paved the beds of the saltwater creeks. River shrimp scurried along in the waters. And Atlantic blue crabs fought each other for the chance to grab bait thrown their way.

Crabs are a "people" food. The fun begins as the pickers gather to share stories and delve into the crab for its delicious meat. Each person has a preference -- some like the claws, others enjoy the lump meat and others just wait for someone to pick and share with them.

After the newspaper "placemats" are spread, the chatter and crab- picking take on a life of their own. There is always enough crab meat left over to prepare a dish for a later date. What a way to enjoy an evening of food and fun.

CRACKERS CRAB COCKTAIL

This is an hors d'oeuvre that will disappear as fast as you can make it.

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup horseradish

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup finely chopped green peppers

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

2 cups picked crab meat

Remove all ligaments from crab meat and blend all ingredients. Serve on crackers.

DEVILED CRABS

Makes: 4 servings

2 cups claw crab meat

1/2 cup light cream

1 tablespoon flour

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon grated onion

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 tablespoon green pepper, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

Red pepper to taste

Rinse crab meat in cold water to get rid of any ligaments and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, stir in flour; add cream and cook mixture until it thickens.

Add slightly beaten egg yolk and crab meat; season with Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and red pepper.

Cook three minutes, then stir in onions, green pepper and lemon juice.

Fill crab shells with the mixture, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 minutes, until bread crumbs are browned.

CRAB AND MUSHROOM QUICHE

Makes: 8 servings

4 eggs, well beaten

2 cups half-and-half

1/3 cup minced onion

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

11/2 cup crab meat

3/4 cup fresh mushroom, sliced and sautèed in butter

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 unbaked 10-inch pastry shell

Chopped parsley

Combine eggs, half-and-half, onion, salt, and cayenne pepper; blend until smooth; set aside. Sprinkle crab meat, mushrooms and cheese over bottom of pastry shell; pour in egg mixture and top with shopped parsley.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 300 degrees and bake 30 additional minutes or until a knife inserted into the quiche comes out clean. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

BAKED SEAFOOD SALAD

Makes: 8 servings

2 cups shrimp

2 cups crab meat

2 cups green peppers, chopped

1/2 cup onions, minced

2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 cups buttered bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients, except 1 cup of bread crumbs. Mix and place in casserole or individual shells. Sprinkle remaining bread crumbs on top and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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