(Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I'll be doing this recipe in the style of the infamous and fabulous Pioneer Woman Cooks. Although this recipe doesn't have any butter in it, so I'm not sure it counts! Special thanks to the Elmo in Numberland episode of Sesame Street for playing the role of babysitter to Genoa while Daddy stayed late at work on Monday night and I cooked. Unfortunately, I'm a one woman show, so I had to take all the photos with one hand while holding stuff with the other hand. Next time I'll have to hire myself a Hyacinth to help!)
This is a two part recipe. First you have to make the dip, which you can either serve in a sourdough bread bowl or use to fill the mushrooms. Or, you know, both.
G'Ann's Special Occasion Crab Dip
This recipe is very near and dear to my heart because it was served at every special occasion I ever got to share with my childhood best friend, Jill. It's her mother's recipe and since G'Ann has always been like a second mother to me, it's basically become a family recipe. Some of my fondest memories are of Jill and I waiting until all the party guests had gone home and then warming, slicing up and devouring the sourdough bowl her mother had used to serve the dip. For as simple and easy as it is to make, it's mind-blowingly delicious. I've made a few changes to G'Ann's original recipe and almost every time I serve it, I get asked for the recipe, so here it is.
The basic cast of characters:
2 cans of white crab meat, 6 ounces each
juice of about half a lemon, maybe more
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 a medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, 8 ounces each
1/2 cup mayo (Best Foods/Hellman's or none is my motto)
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup chardonnay
1-ish tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
2 large round sourdough bread bowls (if you're planning to serve this as dip)
If you're planning to use the dip to stuff mushrooms, you'll also need:
A big package of large white mushrooms
More Parmesan cheese
First up, if you're a pansy like me and your winter hands love to crack and peel if you so much as look at the kitchen sink, put on your latex gloves. Or not. Whatever. Then drain the heck out of that crab meat.
This particular brand comes wrapped in parchment paper, so be sure to pitch that in your trash bowl. Then throw the crab meat into a big pot, like this one:
Then rinse every. single. drop. of crab out of those cans before you throw them in the recycle bin. Trust me on this, it was a lesson I learned it the hard way.
Then cut up a lemon.
and squeeze about half of it right onto that crab. It helps diffuse the fishy flavor of canned meat.
I use anywhere from half to three quarters of a lemon. The last time I made this recipe, I was a little too heavy on the lemon juice and you couldn't taste any of the other flavors in the dip. Before adding any other ingredients, mix the lemon juice into the crab with a big wooden spoon.
Then peel three cloves of garlic:
And mince them directly into your pot:
I never EVER chop garlic with a knife because the best tasting part of it is the juice and I want every drop in my food, not on my chopping block. (Also, I'm lazy and this is way faster). I have one of those cool garlic mincers with the steel handle you can rub under running water to get the garlic smell off your hands. I don't know how it works, but I know it does. Of course, I usually wear latex gloves while I chop and cook, but whatever.
Then peel and halve a medium onion:
Put half away and finely chop the rest of it:
I like to make the pieces as small as possible because the onion in this recipe never gets all the way cooked, so you don't want any big chunks.
Here is a picture of what my trash bowl looks like at this stage in the game, in case you're interested:
Next comes the good stuff: the cheese. There's really no substitute for Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese, so I highly recommend just splurging for the real thing. I think I paid a whopping 97 cents each for name brand. Technically, if you're so inclined, you could go for the reduced fat kind, but really, I assume you're not eating crab dip for its health food qualities.
I don't why, but I love peeling cream cheese. I like the way you don't have to rip the inner package to get to the cheese. Anyway, plunk those puppies right into your pot. You don't have to start mixing anything yet.
I always flatten and recycle as much packaging as I can.
It's not because I'm some big environmentalist so much as that our trash can isn't quite big enough for us, even though it's the biggest one the garbage company allows. I can recycle as much as I want, though, so that helps make room in our trash can for all those dirty diapers. Here's what our recycle bins look like on a Sunday night, six days into our weekly trash cycle:
Next, add the mayo. I don't mean to inspire a debate about brands, but when it comes to mayo, there is basically only ONE kind: Best Foods (aka Hellman's). Measure out about a half cup, I like to let it heap a bit since I love mayo so much.
Add that to your pot and then take out your sour cream, this time measuring out a full cup:
Then squeeze some Dijon mustard into the pot.
I generally don't measure it, so just give it a healthy squirt.
Next measure out a third of a cup of chardonnay.
And add it to your pot.
Then get out your cheese grater and a block of Parmesan cheese.
I LOOOOOOOOVE tasty, fresh parm. It's my favorite cheese. When we lived in California, a usually cost me upwards of $ five ounce block of the cheapest kind, Stella, cost upwards of $5. FIVE DOLLARS. That's a dollar an ounce. Here in Washington, the same exact block costs $1.98. That right there is reason enough to move up north. Anyway, grate the entire block.
Add half of it to the pot and keep the rest ready if you're planning to make the stuffed mushrooms.
Then it's time to start mixing this puppy up on the stove over low heat.
This part usually takes about ten minutes or so. Just keep stirring the pot until the whole thing is warm, smooth and creamy.
Now comes the best part.
You can use a chip, a cracker, a piece of bread or your index finger, but as the head chef it's your job to give your work a nice, decent quality test at this point in the work. Don't skimp. You want to do a real thorough job with this part. It took me a few chips to be 100% satisfied with my final product here, but satisfied I was.
So far so good, right? Totally easy to make.
I apologize for not having photos of this next part, since I didn't bother doing the pretty bread bowl thing just for myself. But if you want to turn this into a dip to serve to guests, then at this point you would take out your sourdough bread bowls. Cut a big square opening into the top of one of them, then scoop out as much of the bread guts as you possibly can and put them into a ziplock bag to use for leftovers. Cut up the second bread bowl into one inch chunks and set aside (in a ziplock bag to keep it from drying out) to serve later with the dip.
Fill up the empty bread bowl with the warm dip. You can refrigerate this dip ahead of time, but it MUST be warm when you put it in the bread bowl or it will burn in the oven long before it's warm enough to serve. Put the sourdough lid back on your bread bowl, wrap the entire thing in tin foil, place on a cookie sheet and heat in the over for 45 minutes at 200 degrees. Remove the foil, arrange on a pretty plate and serve with the cut up sourdough bread.
If you're planning to make the stuffed mushrooms, go ahead and get those started. You can pick any type of mushrooms you like, but I find the medium sized white ones like these work best. In fact, the smaller the better because you can eat them in one bite and they're less messy.
Begin by removing the stems.
But see all that weird leftover stem gunk? I like to clear that out too to make as much room as possible for the dip.
Eventually, you'll get through the entire carton.
Next is my least favorite part because it's the part I could've avoided if I'd shopped a little smarter. I made the very time-consuming mistake of purchasing UNWASHED mushrooms.
Which means I had to wash them. By hand. I know, the horrors! But here's the thing - you can't just throw mushrooms into a colander, rinse them off and call it a day because they are little sponges and they will absorb every bit of water they can. It's their job! And if you then try to bake them, they will turn out extra soggy and you will have done all this work for nothing.
Instead, you have to clean them with a damp paper towel.
It takes forever, but when you're done, you can put the clean mushrooms onto a baking sheet lined with tin foil, or if you're out of tin foil like I was, you can use parchment paper.
Note the lovely "seasoning" on my baking sheet. I virtually ALWAYS line them with parchment or foil, so my food is always clean and I don't ever have to scrub my baking sheets. I prefer the lazy woman's method of rinse, dry, and put away for next time.
Now that the mushrooms are ready, it's time to finish the filling. The first step is to steal some dip from your pot.
Again, I didn't measure, so just eyeball it. I used this much dip:
Remember that parmesan cheese I told you to save?
Throw it all into your dip bowl.
Next take out some dried parsley.
And healthily season your dip with it. As such:
Then stir it up.
And begin filling your mushrooms.
Keep going until their all filled. Be sure to lick your fingers a lot. But not if you're planning to serve this to company.
Technically you could pop them in the oven just like this and they'd be fine, but I like to put a little topping on them for some crunch. I already had a bag of crunched up Ritz crackers mixed with Parmesan cheese in the fridge since I had just used it as a topping for some chicken. It's easy to make yourself: 50% crunched up crackers / 50% shredded parm. Sometimes I add a shot of parsley flakes for color. Easy peasy.
Sprinkle over your mushrooms.
Then pop them in a 400 degree oven for about twenty minutes. My oven tends to be slow, so I'd check them at ten and fifteen minutes to make sure they don't burn. If you need help getting them nice and brown after twenty minutes is up, then pop the broiler on and stand there and watch them carefully until they look like this:
These are beyond delicious.
Never mind the fact that some of them have spilled over onto the parchment. Those ones belong to the chef and here's a secret - they actually taste better that way.
PS - If you decide to make this recipe (and I highly recommend that you DO) and post a review on your blog, send me an e-mail and I will link to it right here. My favorite part of reading recipes is seeing how other people modify things to match their own tastes.