Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Recipe: Crab Quiche

Despite my Italian/New Mexican upbringing, my favorite food to make and eat at home is, without question, quiche. To me it's the perfect dish: low-effort, comforting, with seasonally adjustable ingredients, and you can enjoy it for any meal or at any temperature. All that, and it fills the entire house with a delightful smell that says something awesome is happening in the oven. When I know I'm going to have a gauntlet of a week at work, I make two different quiches on Sunday to bail me out of making dinner for a few nights. I have no idea why my mother never thought of this. A salad, or some fresh fruit, and maybe a glass of wine, and I'm happy as a clam.

Crab quiche is by far my favorite version, and I've experimented with it for a few years... beginning with a recipe that's supposedly John Travolta's fave. Surprisingly, I prefer to use at least half imitation crab meat because the whitefish in it holds the pie together well and gives it a great, meaty texture. Pure crab on its own is too rich, and this is a hell of a lot more convenient. Harder cheeses are best, like Parmesan and Swiss because they have a sharper flavor that gives the custard more dimension, but shredded mozzarella on its own does fine in a pinch.

Crab Quiche

Frozen deep-dish 9" pie shell

6 oz crab meat, picked through for shells
6 oz imitation crab meat
2 cups half and half (I always use fat-free)
4 eggs
1 cup shredded Swiss, mozzarella, and/or Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
pinch nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
2 tbsp chives
2 tbsp cilantro and/or parsley

Pre-bake the pastry shell for ~10 minutes, according to the package instructions. Remove it from the oven onto a baking sheet to cool for a minute and re-set the temperature to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half, and then add the herbs and seasonings. Blend well. Make sure the crab is completely drained, and if necessary blot with a paper towel so that it won't leach out excess water into the custard while baking. Place the crab meat in the warm pie shell, top with the cheeses and slooowly pour the custard over, so that the liquid has time to fill in all those delightful crevices before overflowing onto your baking sheet.

Bake 35-45 minutes, first checking your quiche at the 30-minute mark. The top should be puffy and kissed golden brown all around. Remove and let it cool 10 minutes so that it's easy to slice and serve.


1. I'm sure this would be wonderful with a proper homemade crust, but due to my great aversion to anything resembling baking, I've never done it.

2. For taking this dish to parties, I've found it's best to double the recipe for a large glass or ceramic baking dish and go crustless (easy, now!), using just cooking spray to grease it. This way the crust doesn't have a chance to get soggy or crumbly between transport from your kitchen to the serving table. I let it cool completely and slice it into large square, stackable individual pieces. Every single time I've brought it, someone yells, "Crab quiche!" and a crowd gathers.

I'm sure Vinnie Barbarino would tell you, enjoy it with a Riesling, Chenin Blanc, or a Chardonnay.

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