This is a wonderfully easy crab recipe that you can spice up with a little hot sauce, or be more creative with the addition of diced peppers, or shallots in place of onion.
In any case the true secret is to get the best crabmeat possible.
Try to stay away from claw meat — it's too salty — and to use regular cream cheese. The lighter version of cream cheese simply does not have the flavor profile needed for this creamy dish.
Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and chef ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 pound crabmeat, cleaned
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf crusty Italian or multigrain bread (see cook's note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, onion, mayonnaise, crabmeat, garlic, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Spread mixture into a 1-quart baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes. While the dip is baking, cut a circle in the top of the bread, and scoop out the inside to create a bread bowl. Tear the removed bread into pieces for dipping.
Remove baked crab dip from the oven, and stir well. Spoon the mixture into the hollowed out loaf. Place bread bowl and chunks of bread on a medium baking sheet, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Cook's note: Add a little freshly grated Parmesan or aged cheddar to the top of the bread during the final baking for added flavor, texture and color.