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Crab Imperial

This incredibly rich dish has roots in Maryland, where crab is king. A cocktail party favorite, crab imperial is like a cross between a hot dip and a casserole. While lump crabmeat is the star of the dish (make sure to use the freshest crab you can find), the creamy, slightly tangy sauce really makes it over the top. Made with milk, butter, mayonnaise, and flavored with Worcestershire sauce, dry sherry, and fresh lemon juice, the sauce enhances the taste of the crab without overpowering it. The dish is topped with Parmesan cheese and paprika and baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. You can use a baking dish, small ramekins, or if you’re feeling fancy, natural baking shells. Serve crab imperial as an appetizer with buttery crackers, celery sticks, or toasted baguette slices, or make it a meal by adding a side salad. Either way, you’ll want plenty of white wine to pair with it.

4 natural baking shells or individual ramekins
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 teaspoon paprika (optional)

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