Mrs. Kitching's Crab Loaf

Mrs. Kitching's Crab Loaf

Chesapeake Bay CookingFrances Kitching, culinary first lady of Maryland's Smith Island and coauthor of Mrs. Kitching's Smith Island Cookbook, has served this crab loaf appetizer to countless visitors--including governors, senators, and famous celebrities--at her off-the-beaten-path restaurant located on the island. Baked in a casserole dish, the crab loaf is slightly cooled and cut into small squares, which may then be served as a first course or a pass-around with drinks.

7 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1/2 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons Chesapeake seasoning
2 pounds backfin or special crabmeat, picked over
8 slices bread, crust removed, cubed
Cherry tomatoes, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saute pan. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute over medium heat until slightly soft, about 3 minutes; set aside. Dissolve the cornstarch with the milk in a small saucepan. Whisk over low heat until a smooth paste is formed. Remove from the heat. Mix together the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, Chesapeake seasoning, and cornstarch mixture in a bowl. Stir in the sauteed onion and bell pepper. Place the crabmeat in a separate mixing bowl and pour the wet mixture over the top. Add half of the cubed bread and mix gently.

Lightly butter a 10 x 14-inch baking dish. Add the crab mixture and spread evenly without packing down. Place the remaining cubed bread on top of the mixture. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and spoon over the bread cubes. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut into 3-inch squares and serve on a platter garnished with cherry tomatoes.

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Excerpted from CHESAPEAKE BAY COOKING by John Shields Copyright© 1998 by John Shields. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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