Garlicky Spinach, Crab & Artichoke Dip

Your classic all-American dips, the ones you’ll see at any football party – onion, buffalo chicken, bean & cheese, bacon, ranch, spinach-artichoke, crab-artichoke – have been a socially acceptable excuse to eat what is typically just a hot, cheesy mayonnaise mixture. One of the many reasons I love the country we live in.

The spinach-artichoke or crab-artichoke dip you’ll find in restaurants everywhere is no exception. We inhale chipfuls of it under the guise of eating vegetables.

Sometimes I’ll make a skillet of dip for dinner. What else do you need? I get so full on it, the main course ends up being out of the question anyway.

And what’s the deal with the imitation crab meat? Why do I love it so much? I knew it was made of pollock, but I learned it’s essentially a manufactured paste formed into sticks and dyed red to mimic the appearance of those nice, long pieces of crab meat you’ll pull out of crab legs. I do have a serious love for processed meats, so it makes sense I’d have a love for processed seafood.

Imitation crab meat may imitate too well, because I prefer it over actual crab in this recipe. It makes it much more of a dip you would’ve eaten while you grew up. Plus, it’s cheaper.

So much garlic is required to help this dish reach its potential. I’m talking double the amount of garlic you think you’d need. Not a whole bulb, but a whopping eight to ten cloves. You’ll be surprised how the garlic still manages to linger in the background with all the other flavors in here.

The other musts? Citrus and Old Bay seasoning.

I love lemon, but I find lime doesn’t get as much action in savory cooking that isn’t Tex Mex, and it’s a match made in heaven with any seafood. So I added the juice and the zest of both in here.

And do I need to explain why I’m adding Old Bay? Because this is a crab dip, dummy! 😊

What is the best chip for this dip? That’s the million dollar question. But I think if this question were posed in an episode of Family Feud, pita chips would win out. It’s just the classic go-to for accompanying spinach artichoke dip – probably since cavemen roamed the earth.

Homemade pita chips are a cut above the store-bought pita chip brands. Here I bought a stack of packaged pita bread, cut the rounds into eights like a pizza, brushed the triangles with olive oil, and sprinkled them with salt & pepper. Then just broil until crisped.

Don’t worry about getting too full on this – if you’re not having a main course, that means you can eat the entire skillet for dinner! And no one can judge you for it. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

F o r  t h e  D i p

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 2 cup sour cream
  • 1 / 2 cup parm reg, shredded
  • 8 – 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 8 oz. quartered artichokes, in oil or water
  • 6 sticks imitation crab meat, chopped roughly
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • 1 / 4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

F o r  t h e  P i t a  C h i p s

  • 1 package pita bread
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *450 (you will later lower the temperature to *375).
  2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet, and add the frozen spinach, artichokes, garlic, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Sautee on medium-low heat for about five minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, parm reg, imitation crab meat, juice and zest of one lemon and one lime, fresh parsley, Old Bay seasoning, a heavy pinch of salt and a heavy pinch of pepper. Combine & set aside.
  4. Cut the pita bread into eighths. Lay the triangles on a sheet pan, brushing both sides with olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Broil in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown.
  5. Reset the temperature on the oven from *450 to *375.
  6. After five minutes of sautéing the vegetables, remove the mixture from the heat, adding it to the mayonnaise mixture. Combine.
  7. Pour the dip into a medium-sized skillet, evening out the surface. Put the dip in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the dip is bubbling and the top is golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil for garnish. Serve alongside the pita chips.

Hack-&-Eat Crabs (Done the Maryland Way)

The state of Maryland should open a crab-themed theme park, funded by taxpayers. That’s how much we like crabs. I’m thinking a crab rollercoaster where riders sit sideways. Crab-flavored cotton candy.  A ball pit filled with live crabs for children.

My sister’s boyfriend’s family has a bay house where they pig out on crabs as often as possible, with obligatory pitchers of Bud Light.

For my birthday he gave me a big freezer bag full of crabs with…

Happy Bday

-Billy

…written in pen on the bag. My boyfriend and I sat there destroying these guys with mallets, eating them ice cold from the fridge, doused with copious amounts of Old Bay-seasoned melted butter. We were also probably a little drunk at that point.

In my all white, pristine apartment. Don’t do what I did.

Summer is coming up. And to that end, here are some recommendations for a crabby extravaganza!

That yellow bile you get when you break the crab in half is godly. Suck the juice out every claw (leg?) you pull off at the joint. You can eat the shell of some of these softer appendages, if you’re also a fan of eating the tails off of shrimp (a-la shrimp cocktail).

Here’s a short video showing how to correctly dismantle the body.

Serve these with beers poured from pitchers into pre-chilled beer mugs. List of Maryland-based brews here.

Eat outside because, please. If you live in a city like I do, I would probably find a wooden table at a nearby park.

You only really need mallets and tiny forks for meat retrieval. I never end up using the shellfish crackers. Put newspaper or some kind of durable paper down before you heave them across the table steaming hot out of the pot.

Put lots of melted butter, lemon wedges (for masking post-crab eating finger smells), malt vinegar, hot sauce, cocktail sauce and old bay on the table. Don’t forget the paper towel rolls either, or the big bowl for shells and carcasses.

And then, prepare to get flecks of crab shell in your hair, folks.

To quote a scene from Wedding Crashers, a ground-breaking motion picture that forever redefined film in America –

*bro catches touchdown pass*

Crabcakes and football, that’s what Maryland DOES!

I N G R E D I E N T S

The recommended amount of crabs to serve per person is anywhere from 8 to 12. A bushel is 7 to 8 dozen blue crabs. The recipe below would serve 4 people, so adjust accordingly when you order the crabs.

  • 1 / 2 bushel live Maryland blue crabs (approximately 48 crabs)
  • 3 lemons, halved
  • 4 -7 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning, plus additional for sprinkling after being boiled
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 sticks melted, clarified butter*
  • Enough water to fill the pot 2 / 3 of the way full

*To clarify butter, put the desired amount of butter in a shallow saucepan and melt until the solids separate from the golden liquid beneath, and with a large shallow spoon, remove the fat solids from the top. Reserve the remaining liquid.

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Fill a 6 quart pot with water 2 / 3 of the way full. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, the lemon halves, and 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to the pot, adding an additional 1 tablespoon with each new batch of 12 crabs that’s added.
  2. Submerge the 12 live crabs in the water, one by one, making sure to keep the claws intact.
  3. Cook each batch for 10 minutes.
  4. Once cooked, carefully remove the crabs with tongs to a very big bowl or several large bowls (whatever you have on hand), sprinkling with additional Old Bay seasoning as you finish each batch.
  5. Serve immediately with the clarified butter and optional Old Bay seasoning, malt vinegar, hot sauce and cocktail sauce, as desired.

O P T I O N A L

  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Malt vinegar
  • Tabasco Hot Sauce
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • Bottled cocktail sauce*

*If you prefer to make your own cocktail sauce, mix 2 parts ketchup to 1 part prepared horseradish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or Tabasco sauce for an extra kick.