Stuffed crabs are a timeless recipe. “La Bouche Creole,” by Leon Soniat, was a cooking bible of sorts for me for many years. As I worked my way through my grandmother’s, aunt’s and mother’s kitchens listening and learning, seeing and doing, and tasting and sampling, I learned so many important lessons. One, that there is no right or wrong way to prepare many of the traditional Creole New Orleans recipes. I discovered my preferences early on and developed a discriminating palate and then made these family and regional institutions my own.
Stuffed crabs, or deviled crabs as some may call them, is one of those timeless recipes. There are lots of examples of tasteless, bready stuffed crabs out there. But not this recipe that needed few modifications to maintain perfection. La Bouche Creole recommends a pound of unadulterated white crabmeat with a delicate amount of seasoning, a bit of butter and cream for richness, and minimum breadcrumbs.
Some of the other renditions of this recipe include shrimp, french bread or flour for thickening, mayonnaise and the holy trinity. I encourage you to research the variations on stuffed crabs to find the one that suits you best. Of course, for the real purists that have access to fresh crabs, you can choose to boil and pick the fresh crabmeat rather than purchase a pound of white crabmeat at your local seafood market.
The upside of boiling your own crabs is that you can use the crab shell, or carapace if you want to get technical, to stuff. This is the best way to prepare an authentic New Orleans style stuffed crab. However, I am attached to those little aluminum crab-shaped shells for stuffing. They are so retro 50’s and 60’s. If you do not have access to those, baking ramekins will suffice. It’s all about the crabmeat anyway isn’t it?