Christmas is now just a memory, and once the celebration is over, the days after Christmas before New Year’s Day seem just a little too quiet. I don’t know about you, but I spend so much time and effort with holiday preparations that when the holiday has completed, it is just a bit of a letdown. Although we usually dine out somewhere special for Christmas Eve and prepare Christmas dinner at home, this year as it was our first Christmas in our new house, I wanted to go all out, so we stayed home and cooked on both days. We had family over Christmas Eve, and so I prepared a traditional Italian American seafood celebration or Feast of The Seven Fishes.
Our family loves seafood so I knew that anything I prepared that involved seafood would be appreciated, but I wanted to put together an amazing menu. I ended up making a hot crab and oyster dip to enjoy when the family first arrived, and then dinner began with a selection of appetizers before we moved on to an anchovy pasta dish and traditional seafood soup. My elderly Mother was with us for the holidays, and one of her favorite things to eat are crab cakes, so I wanted something similar on the menu for her. I ended up making these crab poppers which are basically mini crab cakes prepared in a mini muffin tin. This was my first time preparing crab this way so I was a little concerned that the poppers would stick to the pan after baking, but it turned out that they were easy to remove.
When it comes to crab cakes, the best ones are mostly crab meat, with little or no filler. These poppers are perfect because they do not use breadcrumbs within the crab poppers themselves; instead, the breadcrumbs are just used on the exterior for texture and to ensure that the poppers are easily removed from the pan. I like to serve my crab cakes with a spicy mayo-based sauce, so I decided that these poppers would be great with a similar sauce. The sauce contains both horseradish and sriracha sauce, so it has just enough bite. These poppers are best served warm, not too hot right from the oven so they hold together when you remove them from the pan.
This is a great appetizer to serve when entertaining any time of the year because the entire dish can be prepared the day before, and then baked just before serving. I was so busy getting our entire meal prepared and served Christmas Eve that I didn’t even think about taking photos at the time. These crab poppers ended up being one of the favorites of our appetizers though, so I was very happy when my husband found a few crab poppers that were left over for me to photograph. I knew that this was a recipe I just had to share!
Deborah Mele 2018
- 1 Cup Unseasoned Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Red Bell Pepper
- 1/4 Cups Finely Chopped Green Onions
- 1 (16 Ounce) Container of Jumbo Lump Crabmeat
- 1/2 Cup Real Mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 Egg Lightly Beaten
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:
- 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Prepared Horseradish
- 1 Tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 Tablespoon Capers, Drained
- 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
- To make the sauce, whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl until blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- Use olive oil spray and liberally spray the cups of a mini muffin pan.
- Sprinkle the cups of the muffin tin with 1/4 cup of the Panko breadcrumbs.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the crab popper ingredients.
- Place 3/4 cup of the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
- Use your hands to take golf ball sized amounts of the crab mixture, and shape into a ball.
- Gently roll the crab balls in the breadcrumbs, and place each into the cups of the prepared muffin tin.
- Once all the crab poppers are prepared, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Bake the poppers for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the poppers are golden brown.
- Cool 5 minutes, then use a spoon to remove the poppers from the muffin tin and place on a serving dish.
- Serve immediately with the dipping sauce on the side.