Mother’s Favorite Dish: Crab Bake Royale

collage for may finalFor the month of May, eight bloggers and I are posting “Mother’s Favorite Dish”. There were a couple of ways this could be interpreted: a dish my mom loved to eat or a dish my mom loved to make. I agonized over this, because I truly couldn’t remember what my mother loved to eat.

I know that she liked raspberries and cream, but that wouldn’t make a very good recipe. She liked anything with butter on it. GOBS of butter. When she was a little girl, visiting a friend of the family with her mother and father, she was asked what she would like to eat. Her answer was: “I’d like some butter with some bread under it.” That was my mom.

She didn’t have a sweet tooth at all (probably the reason I learned to bake for myself) so desserts weren’t an option. I guess as a typically narcissistic child/teenager I just didn’t pay attention to what Mom ate!  And sadly, she’s no longer here to ask.

I would just have to think this one through, because it was important to me that I came up with the right answer. Hmmmmm.

cookbook photo

My mom was a young housewife in the 1950’s, inundated with advertising that created rigid standards for young women. Spotless homes, starched aprons, pearls and heels. If you’re old enough to remember “Leave it to Beaver” you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Did we ever see June wearing anything but a dress and pearls?

Giving a party was serious business; a husband’s job could depend on the gracious hostessing abilities of the “little woman.”  These were the years of cocktail parties, hors d’oeuvres, and aspic coated everything. Talk about pressure!

Mom was a very good cook. A very good basic cook. She was a left-brained kind of gal – the one you’d go to if you needed something organized. Efficient, capable, but for the most part not creative. She followed recipes exactly, just like her mother did, so all of her “best” dishes turned out perfectly each time.

She was the queen of roasts and gravies, something I’ve never mastered. And oh, Lord, did she have the whole lime jello thing down pat. Ugh. We entertained often, and company dinners were usually roasts and jello. Pretty predictable.

Crab Bake Royale

But…the one casserole that I remember helping Mom make was a “company casserole”. In other words, it was expensive, and not an everyday treat. I found the recipe recently in one of her old recipe boxes, and am proud to pass it on to you. I agree…it’s not something I’d make often. I figure it cost me about $16 to make this dish – a little pricey for my budget. But it really is good! I am going to give you the recipe exactly as it was written, but I do have some suggestions for improvement:

  1.  Use fresh crab and shrimp. Seriously. If you can’t afford that, make something else! Where we live, there really is no fresh or even frozen crab available. I turned my nose up at snow crab (though later I regretted that), refused to even consider “Krab”, and even checked out canned crab as a last resort, but it was from overseas and I just couldn’t make myself buy it. I grew up in Seattle and the farthest our crab ever traveled was from Alaska.  So I went to the last grocery store in the area and they had refrigerated crab from the Philippines in little tubs. I was desperate and bought it, but was sorry later. The flavor was very fishy. Fresh crab would have made ALL the difference. Go for dungeness if you can get it.
  2. Garlic. I think this would really be good with a little fresh minced garlic. Not necessary, but yummy.
  3. I used the buttered breadcrumbs for the topping, and they were very good, but I’m a big fan of Panko and would probably just use that next time.

Here’s the recipe:

Crab Bake Royale
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
This is a very rich casserole, so this should be plenty for 6 people. Serve it with a big salad and crusty french rolls!
  • 1 can (7½ oz.) crab meat, or 1 package (6 oz) frozen
  • 1 can (4½ oz.) shrimp
  • 4 sliced hard-cooked eggs
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup sliced ripe olives
  • 2 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • dash pepper
  • ½ cup buttered crumbs and parsley for garnish
  1. Drain and slice canned crab, reserving whole leg piece for garnish if desired. or, defrost, drain and slice frozen crab.
  2. Drain shrimp.
  3. Combine crab and shrimp with remaining ingredients, except buttered crumbs and parsley.
  4. Place mixture in shallow, buttered, baking dish. Sprinkle buttered crumbs on top. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with crab leg and parsley. Makes 6 medium size servings.
  6. Note: don't use too big of a casserole dish because the mixture should be at least 2" deep.)



Getting soft bread crumbs from day-old French bread.

Getting soft bread crumbs from day-old French bread.

Combine and place in casserole. I used a deep pie pan.

Combine and place in casserole. I used a deep pie pan.

I hope you’ll enjoy this casserole from the past. It’s just as rich and hot and appealing as it was in the ’60s!

You can consider yourself lucky, because originally I was going to include her favorite jello salad. It had lime Jello, walnuts, shredded cheddar cheese, and pear halves. Seriously. To this day I can NOT eat canned pears. Slimy, grainy things. Fortunately, I didn’t put the ingredients on my shopping list, because I was positive I wouldn’t forget them. Hah! What would Freud say???

Here are links to the bloggers who have already posted their special dishes, and dates for those yet to come. Please come back and follow along with us!

May 6, Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach from Baking In a Tornado

May 7, Berry Tart from Crumbs in my Mustachio

May 8, Peggy’s Hummingbird Cake from Tampa Cake Girl

May 9, my Crab Bake Royale

May 13, Caramelized Onion, Tomato & Goat Cheese Focaccia from Hun, What’s for Dinner?

May 14, Banana Cream Jelly Roll from An Affair From the Heart

May 15, White Wine and Fontina French Onion Soup from Cooking from a Stay at Home Mom

May 16, Aunt Bee’s Recipes

That’s it for May, but I hope you’ll come back next month when we crack out the Red, White, and Blue!!