Chef Devin Alston holds food close to his heart. To him, it is the centerpiece for family. It’s the talking point and focus of a gathering or party, around which family and friends can pull up chairs, grab plates, and serve up delicious meals together. We can’t help but agree with him, and believe food is tied to entertaining, which is why we have started our Taste of Empava series – delicious recipes for you try using your Empava ovens and ranges.
Devin taught us this delicious recipe for baked Chesapeake Crab Dip; the perfect party dish to cook in your Empava oven.
Coming from the Chesapeake Bay region, Chesapeake Crab Dip is a taste of childhood for Devin, the food of his family.
What is Chesapeake Crab Dip?
If you’re not from the Maryland area, you may not have tried this creamy baked crab dip before. As it emerges golden and steaming from the oven, everyone’s mouth waters and they try to grab some baguette or crackers to start dipping, so here’s a head’s up before you serve it at your next party!
This dip is a Baltimore staple because of their substantial supply of crab. Devin describes the locals’ weakness for the crustacean, particularly blue crab which is native to the Chesapeake area, even going as far as saying, ‘everything is crab!’
The base is a soft creamy filling made from cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise, then seasoned with lemon, and Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder and a dash of hot sauce to give it a kick. Along with some grated cheddar cheese and scallions, the crab meat is gently folded in, then tipped into a baking dish and sprinkled with a layer of extra cheese. Finally, the dip is baked until the cheesy topping is puffed up and crisp like a pie crust.
Devin serves his Chesapeake Crab Dip hot with lightly toasted baguette and a sprinkling of chopped chives and lemon zest. He laughs, ‘It’s a very fast dish, a very easy dish, a 10-year-old could make it!’ So, no pressure.
Tips to make your Chesapeake Crab Dip
Tips from a Chesapeake local will take your crab dip from pretty good, to becoming your new talking point at parties when people demand you give them your recipe! So, read closely:
- Old Bay seasoning – this fundamental Maryland ingredient is a requirement in Chesapeake Crab Dip! The seasoning blend was created by Gustav Brunn, a Jewish-German refugee who escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, and set up a spice shop in Baltimore opposite the fish market. After noticing that the local fishermen were creating their own spice blends, Brunn had a go himself and invented Old Bay which he recommended as a seasoning for shrimp and crab. The blend is a balanced mix of celery salt, red and black pepper, and paprika, which lifts simple steamed crab, a popular cheap dish during the war, and is now a perfect addition to the creamy Chesapeake Crab Dip. Marylanders sprinkle it on everything, including popcorn and cocktails, so take it easy to start off!
- Blue crab – the signature shellfish of Chesapeake Bay, and yes, they are blue! Not only are these little crabs revered because of their symbiosis with the natural environment and other critters in the bay, but their meat is delicious and devoured by all who try them! If you can get hold of blue crab meat, then certainly incorporate it into this dip, and you will be the celebrity of any Baltimore party! Devin says, ‘Blue crab has been the lifeline for Baltimore for centuries, and I’m honored to share my roots and background with crab lovers abroad!’
Cooking with your Empava oven
Now, it’s time for the magic to begin!
Here at Empava, we have a wide selection of electric and gas ovens, but no matter which oven you own, you can make this delicious crab dip in no time at all.
All of our Empava ovens come with an easy-to-clean glass door, so you can keep an eye on your food as it cooks without releasing any precious heat.
Devin uses one of our electric ovens while creating his Chesapeake Crab Dip, the dry heat crisping the surface of the cheesy crust, ready to break under your spoon when you come to serve it.
Your kitchen should be a space for creativity; there you can leave the stresses of the day behind by using equipment which brings out the best in your ingredients. So, have a go at Devin’s Chesapeake Crab Dip in your Empava oven and wow your guests!
Chesapeake Crab Dip
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Yield: 2 cups
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound crabmeat (lump)
4 dashes hot sauce
1/3 cup chopped scallion
Old Bay seasoning to taste
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease or spray a 1 quart baking dish.
2) Prepare the crab meat be sure to remove any excess shells that you may find in the crab meat if any and set aside.
3) Chop the scallions and set aside.
4) In a medium bowl mix together the lemon juice, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, Worcestershire, dry mustard, hot sauce, Old Bay to taste, 3 tablespoons of the cheddar cheese and the scallions. After everything is incorporated evenly, gently fold in crab meat using a rubber spatula.
5) Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake until bubbly, and cheese is beginning to caramelize on top, for approximately 30 mins.
6) Remove from oven. If you are serving with baguettes slice and lightly toast them for 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!