I don’t know about you, but I love a good crab dip. Granted, I’m fairly picky when it comes to the delectable world of crustaceans. Few things irk me more than diving into a dish touted as “crab” or “lobster” only to find a few, indiscernible flecks of meat in a sea of filler. It makes me grumpy. A well-executed dip, on the other hand—creamy, bubbling, and brimming with chunks of fresh crabmeat—is something to savor. Make it a little different by introducing the bright, zesty flavor of tomato salsa, and it might just be the life of your Game Day party.
I stumbled upon this recipe years ago in a Thanksgiving cookbook, nestled amongst recipes for cranberry sauce, corn pudding, and chestnut stuffing. Since we had already finalized our holiday menu, I bookmarked the page for the future, and remembered it when planning a 4th of July party the following summer. Taking the obligatory “make-sure-it’s-good-enough-for-guests” spoonful, I immediately regretted not making it sooner. It was delicious. There wasn’t a speck of dip left in the bowl that day, and everyone wanted the recipe.
Since this dip has so few ingredients, it’s important that they be of the best possible quality. Sweet, tender jumbo lump crab is key (I buy mine fresh from the seafood market), carefully picked over to remove any cartilage. Many times, I’ll make my own salsa, but if the season isn’t prime for tomatoes, I’ll pick up a prepared container from the grocery store. (In this case, I go for the fresh varieties from the produce section or antipasto bar as opposed to jarred. I like the brightness that fresh salsa adds to the dip, but that’s just my personal preference.) You’re completely in charge of the heat level here. Don’t like spicy food? Choose a mild salsa and add only a dash or two of hot sauce. Like it hot? Go to town.
So there’s no confusion on yield: the photographs show a half recipe of dip. Having made this late one evening (after
tasting chowing down on a hearty scoop of the Spinach and Artichoke Dip), and inviting only one friend over for the next afternoon, I knew we wouldn’t be able to polish off a full recipe. (Who am I kidding? I’m sure we could have, but the buttons on our jeans might’ve staged a protest.) Luckily, if you’re not entertaining a big crowd this weekend, or are serving a lot of other dishes, the recipe halves beautifully. Although, you might be a little disappointed when you’re looking for a snack on Monday and there are no leftovers!
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- 1 cup chunky tomato salsa, drained of excess liquid in a mesh sieve
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over to remove cartilage and flaked
- Hot red pepper sauce, to taste*
- 1/2 cup plain fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 1-quart baking dish.
- In a large bowl, mash together cream cheese, salsa, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined and no chunks of cream cheese remain. Fold in crabmeat and season to taste with hot sauce.
- Place dip in prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, 40-50 minutes, until hot and bubbly. (Check breadcrumbs after about 30 minutes. If they are starting to get too brown, cover the dip with a piece of foil until the last 5 minutes of baking.)
- Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve hot with warmed, lightly-salted tortilla chips.