I’m all for high-low dishes (after all, Ina Garten turned me onto the magic of potato chips and caviar at a young age). But I’ve always thought that hot crab dip seemed like a foolish use of a $30 a pound protein. It’s the same kind of philosophical problem I have with putting Foie Gras on burgers and lobster in tacos. I’ll admit that I do enjoy these things at restaurants from time to time, otherwise I’d have to figure out a foot-in-mouth emoji and post it on this image.
At restaurants when someone else is doing the work and partially amortizing expensive ingredients across other menu items, that’s one thing. But at home, I’m not going to hide my luxury splurges underneath a dousing of ketchup, cream cheese or sour cream.
But a few weeks ago on the vineyard I got a craving for crab. I was having a few friends over for dinner—friends who had wined and dined me on several occasions and I had yet to return the favor. So I wanted to do something special for them. Standing over the stove frying crab cakes while everyone else drinks rose and watches the sunset is my idea of a hosting nightmare. The next thing that popped into my head at the seafood shop was the idea for a spicy warm crab dip. And like the taste of Cape Cod potato chips scooping up caviar, I just couldn’t shake it.
This hot crab dip recipe is quite a few tablespoons of crème fraiche and mayo away from being healthy. But you’ll be surprised by how much the taste of fresh, sweet crabmeat is still the star. Inspired by this mac ‘n cheese and this southwestern take on artichoke dip, I spiced up the mixture with some diced jalapenos and sautéed scallions.
To make the dip gluten-free while still maintaining the crunchy topping that all the best hot dips have, I ground up some tortilla chips and used them to dust my casserole. The whole thing only takes a few minutes under the broiler to get golden brown. If you like your dip even hotter, you can bake it in the oven for a few additional minutes at 350F. But I like how just a short hit of heat brings out the smell of the sea without melting away the crab into mush.
I couldn’t be more depressed that summer is coming to a close. So if you’re anything like me, I know you’re planning something fun to make the season go out kicking and screaming. If there’s ever a time to get your friends together, splurge on some high brow ingredients, and have your little ole low way with them, Labor Day weekend is that time. Make sure to accompany your hot crab dip with a glass of cold cold bubbly and pour one out for me.
See you in September!
Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 2 jalapenos ribs and seeds removed, minced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 pound lump crabmeat picked over
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Dash cayenne
- ¼ cup finely ground tortilla chips see note
- In a medium non-stick skillet heat the oil. Saute the scallion, jalapeno, garlic and paprika over medium heat until soft, 2 minutes. Remove to a mixing bowl.
- Add the crab meat, mayo, crème fraiche, lemon juice, cayenne and ½ teaspoon salt to the vegetable mixture. Fold until mixed together, trying not to break the crabmeat apart too much.
- Transfer the crab dip to a medium (8x8 or comparable) casserole dish.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Sprinkle the tortilla chips over the top of the dip. Bake under the broiler until golden brown on top and heated through, 2 minutes.
- Serve immediately with tortilla chips on the side for dipping.