This is a very easy, yet elegant, appetizer. Crab (and all shellfish) just has such a special occasion feel to it. You can easily swap the Brioche for a gluten-free bread or breadcrumb if you are so inclined. I like to serve this in Phyllo cups or little Puff Pastry cups. You could bake it in small ramekins and serve it next to a steak or bake a big spoonful of it on top of a piece of fish – but it makes a truly lovely appetizer. By serving it in a little Phyllo cup, it becomes bite sized and perfect for passing around – no plates or forks needed!
We partnered up with the extremely talented Libby Vision to get this delicious Crab Imperial recipe posted just in time for your New Year’s Eve gathering! I made the Crab Imperial and she worked her magic to create these beautiful images of it.
If you are using Puff Pastry cups, you will need to pre-bake them (leave them slightly undercooked and remove the centers once they have cooled enough to handle them). The Phyllo cups only need to be thawed. Set them aside while you prepare the Crabmeat mixture.
- Puff Pastry cups or Phyllo cups
- 8 Ounces Crabmeat (I used Lump Crabmeat – also called Backfin)
- 2 Tablespoons Red Bell Pepper (diced)
- 1 Shallot (diced)
- 2 Tablespoons Hot Sauce
- 3/4 Cup Cubed Bread (I used Brioche)
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Old Bay (any seafood seasoning will do)
- Juice from 1 Lemon
- Chopped Parsley
- Black Pepper
I used pasteurized Crabmeat; it’s fresh (never frozen) but you could also use truly fresh Crabmeat (not pasteurized) if you can find it. The pasteurized variety comes in a tin whereas the truly fresh Crabmeat usually comes packaged in a little plastic tub. Drain the Crabmeat and check for shells or cartilage.
Place the cubed bread in a small bowl (I just tore it into small pieces) and pour the heavy cream over it. Allow it to sit while you prepare the rest of the recipe. I used a very delicious Brioche that we carry in the store, but you can use any bread you have on hand. Combine all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, being careful not to break up the Crabmeat too much. The soaked bread should be the last thing you add to the bowl, folding it in gently but thoroughly.
At this point, you can refrigerate the crab mixture for use later or the next day… or you can spoon it into the cups and bake it right away. Bake the filled cups in a preheated 300-degree oven for about 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on the Puff Pastry cups, if you’re using them, because they are already cooked and can get too brown pretty quickly. Everything here is already cooked – you’re just heating it through and getting the slightest bit of color on the Crabmeat mixture.
Everyone will love this – it’s like a little crab cake in a cup! And now… for the beautiful pictures of our Crab Imperial from Libby Vision: