Split the avocados in half lengthwise and remove the pits. With a melon-ball cutter, gently enlarge the cavity toward the stem end.
With a fork, mash the avocado pulp which was removed.
Mix the pulp with 4 tbs. of the mayonnaise, salt if needed, pepper and cayenne or Tabasco. Gently fold in the crab meat and the celery.
Divide the crab mixture among the eight avocado halves.
Mix the Worcestershire sauce with the remaining 4 tbs. mayonnaise. With a pastry bag or a cone made from wax paper, pipe approximately 1/2 tbs. of the mayonnaise mixture on each filled avocado half.
Remove the outside leaves of the iceberg lettuce. Arrange the leaves on a serving platter. Cut the inside part of the lettuce into very thin strips and make 8 small nests on the leaves lining the serving platter. Place an avocado half on each nest.
Cut each lemon in quarters and garnish the serving platter with the slices of lemon. Serve. If desired, offer additional mayonnaise separately.
CHEF'S SECRET: When you buy avocados, they should not be soft but, if pressed gently, should give about the same resist-ance as an orange. Once at home, pack each avocado in a brown paper bag and leave them at room temperature overnight. Of course, chill before serving.
If you use canned crab meat, it is advisable to pick it over. Sometimes you may find a small piece of the shell. Definitely taste it for saltiness. Certain brands improve with a quick rinsing with water.
If you have to rinse it, don't do it under the faucet. Place the meat in a sieve and dip the sieve in a small amount of water. Loosen the meat with one finger, then remove the sieve from the water and shake the meat dry. The flavor will not be destroyed, but the saltiness of the canning liquid will be gone.
Enlarging the cavity of the avocados with a melon-ball cutter has two purposes; you have the subtle taste of the pulp in the crab mixture, and it is easier to arrange the filling without making it messy.
Definitely peel the celery stalks for this dish with a potato peeler so that no strings get into the salad. The celery is needed for its crunchy texture to counterbalance the softness of the avocado and mayonnaise and the fleshy chewiness of the crab meat. If you do not care for the taste of celery, you can substitute peeled, seeded, finely chopped cucumber.
Makes 8 servings.
From "The Chef's Secret Cookbook", Louis Szathmary, Quadrangle Books, Chicago. 1972.
Posted by Stephen Ceideberg; March 14 1993.