New Jersey is so much more than diners, Bruce Springsteen and The Sopranos. The real secret is the beaches – all 130 miles – stretching the entire length of the state. You could walk (or run) for miles on sugar white sandy beaches with waves big enough for surfing all year long (just ask my brothers). So, what’s better than an après beach day of cocktails and Jersey shore crabmeat canapés? A simple mixture of local crabmeat with horseradish and grainy mustard is elegant on garlic butter toast or as a casual dip with crackers. New Jersey at its finest.
About crabmeat: The best crabmeat for crab cakes is at the fish counter, pasteurized and refrigerated in a can (not canned on the shelf with the tuna). There are several grades of crabmeat and they vary by size along with the price. Jumbo lump is the most expensive but backfin, a combo of smaller pieces, is just as flavorful, less expensive and ideal for crabmeat canapés.
Make it a dip: No time to make canapés? No problem. The dip itself requires a few whirls in the food processor. If you’re limited to a bowl (read: on vacation at the Jersey shore perhaps…)You can whip it up quit easily as long as the cream cheese is at room temperature.
- 1 pound container back fin crabmeat (sometimes called “special”), divided
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped, divided
- 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 2 tablespoons grainy mustard
- Few dashes of hot sauce
- Salt to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- Salt to taste
- 1 loaf good quality bread, sliced
- Place ½ of the crabmeat, ¾ of the scallions, cream cheese, Worcestershire, horseradish, mustard and hot sauce in a food processor and pulse until combined (don’t worry about the crabmeat breaking up, this is the foundation of the dip).
- Place in a bowl and gently fold in the remaining crabmeat.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter and add smashed garlic cloves.
- Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes so the garlic can infuse the butter.
- Turn off heat, remove the garlic and season with salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, using a 3-inch round cookie cutter (a shot glass works well in a pinch), cut rounds of bread for the canapés trying to avoid using the crust (you can save that for fresh homemade breadcrumbs).
- Preheat broiler.
- Place bread rounds on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter.
- Place 6 inches under the broiler and cook until lightly brown, about 2 minutes (keep an eye on it the entire time so it does not burn).
- Remove toasted bread from the oven and cool slightly.
- Place 1-2 teaspoons of crabmeat on each canapé and top with sliced scallions.
- Serve immediately.
Note: Canapé toast and crabmeat spread can be made several days ahead and stored in airtight containers separately. Combine when you are ready to serve.