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Bajan crab backs

Baked crab based on a starter from The Cove on Barbados via the owner’s self published cookbook, Caribbean Recipes ‘Old & New,’ by LaurelAnn Morley. Barbados has been called Little England and this dish demonstrates a British influence on island foodways in its choice of flavorings. The backs are essentially a form of deconstructed crabcakes. Four starters.

Preheat the oven to 375°.

-4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

-¼ cup minced shallots

crab100.jpg-1 heaped teaspoon minced hot chili or heaped ¼ teaspoon cayenne

-1 teaspoon minced chives or scallion tops

-1 clove garlic, smashed and minced

-1 Tablespoon minced parsley

-½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh

-1 teaspoon Worcestershire

-½ teaspoon lime juice

-½ cup breadcrumbs

-1 oz water

-salt and pepper

-½ lb crabmeat

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat and cook the shallots until they soften but do not color
  2. Add the chili, chives, garlic, parsley and thyme and continue cooking until the garlic loses its raw tint.
  3. Stir the Worcestershire, lime juice, breadcrumbs, water, salt and pepper into the vegetables for a few seconds and turn off the heat.
  4. Carefully fold the crabmeat into the mixture, then spoon it into four crabshells or ramekins and bake for 15 minutes.

Notes:- These ‘backs’ are made for eating with toast and Champagne or black velvet; the Editor likes to tip her velvet at a ratio of two parts Guinness to one of fizz; Phoebe Dinsmore reverses the ratio.- Fresh crab is sublime but expensive; this is one of those recipes that will tolerate the canned alternative. The backs will be good, just not as good.

- A lot of the food police claim to disdain any combination of shellfish and cheese, notwithstanding the wild success of the union in any number of dishes created by the Ugleisches of New Orleans at their much missed restaurant, not to mention Scallops St. Jack. Morley’s Barbadian crab under cheese gives us further faith in the pairing. These proportions make four starters: Gently fold a pinch of cayenne or minced chili, a shot glass of minced chives, 3 Tablespoons of heavy cream, a teaspoon of lime juice, and Tablespoon of Sherry (not too sweet; anything drier than cream will do), into 2 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs and half a pound of crab. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and a little mace and spoon it into four crabshells or ramekins, then top each one with some shredded sharp cheddar to bake like the backs, at 375 but unlike them for only ten minutes.

- We like to ditch the Sherry for a Verdelho Madeira (the Editor in particular likes Madeira). You could use half as much good dark rum instead.

- An assertive IPA and more toast should be mandatory with crab under cheese.