Frances 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.
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.