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March 2, 2008 / Tony

Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip

Here’s another picture from the appetizer party:

img_2078.jpgAnd here’s the recipe:

Hot Crab and Artichoke Dip (original recipe can be found here)

1 (9-oz) package frozen artichoke hearts

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

3 T unsalted butter

2 T all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups half-and-half

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 oz finely grated parmesan (1/2 cup)

1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1 1/2 T minced drained pickled jalapeño chiles

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp celery salt

3/4 lb jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook artichoke hearts according to package instructions, then drain well and finely chop. Cook bell pepper in 1 tablespoon butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in artichokes and transfer mixture to a bowl.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour and cook roux, stirring, 3 minutes. Add half-and-half in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in artichoke mixture, scallions, 1/3 cup parmesan, lemon juice, jalapeños, salt, and celery salt. Gently stir in crab. Transfer to a buttered 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Bake dip in middle of oven until bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

This is what it looks like:

img_2079.jpg

The interesting thing about this recipe is that it has a béchamel base as opposed to a cheese base (or even worse, a mayonnaise base).  Other similar recipes would use cheese as a thickener and binder, and hence, be much heavier than this recipe.  In contrast, the dip in this recipe is certainly hearty but it feels lighter and since there’s less cheese, the flavors of the artichokes and crab come through much more strongly.  For me, less cheese is actually “more” in the quality department when it comes to dips like this, so that’s why this is my recipe of choice when I make this type of thing.  Anyway, the flavors in the dish are fabulous. 

A couple notes:  1)  It may be difficult to find frozen artichoke hearts.  If so, canned artichokes are a fine substitution.  That’s what we did.  Obviously, if you do so, you will not need to cook them.  2)  Pickled pepperoncini peppers can be substituted for the pickled jalapeño chiles to good effect.  3)  This dish can be made 1 day ahead and then baked the next day. 

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