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cheddar-crab melt

Favorite Sharp Cheddar-Crab Baguette Melts

An updated version of the crab melts I grew up on, the cheddar-crab combination is winning for a casual dinner, appetizer or lunch at home.

Sponsored Post: I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cabot Cheese and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.


I grew up eating Cabot Cheese from Vermont. A wheel of it, cloaked in red wax, occupied space on a shelf in the refrigerator every holiday time.

This was our fancy cheese. And I learned to love real cheddar–even sharp cheddar cheese as a kid. {As an adult I say, the sharper the better.}

I didn’t know growing up that Cabot is a cooperative. Now with over 900 farmers, it is one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the country. This matters–a lot. With so many dairy farmers suffering, this company is helping to keep family farms thriving.

More Than Good Cheese

I learned from this article in Harvard Business Review, that Cabot Cheese was born in 1919 from a milk glut crisis similar to what the dairy industry experienced this past spring.

By turning perishable milk into shelf-stable and more valuable products–cheese as well as butter, yogurt and sour cream–the benefits spread across the board.

But the company is also the only certified B Corps in the dairy industry. This means that is has verified sustainability practices that impact how the cows are treated in the milking parlors to carbon emissions. So, when it comes to environmental, social and economic sustainability, Cabot is peerless.

For example, instead of dumping vast quantities of whey in fields like in the old days, the company turns it into whey protein, animal feed and then filters the water for reuse.

Yes, this really is good cheese.

Nostalgia Crab Melt Appetizer

When I learned about this recipe contest for Cabot, I immediately felt nostalgic. I was a New England kid who had the privilege of tasting real cheddar during the era of processed cheese.

Cheddar-crab melts before broiling

As a recipe developer now, I considered all of the possibilities for cheddar–from baked strata and scones to a dinnertime Joe’s special or great homemade cheeseburger.

Then, the experience came back to me of those big family holiday dinners and the crab melt appetizers my aunt Anne made every year. Yes, you know the ones made on English muffins and broiled.

She cut them into quarters and we snacked on them {along with the cocktail meatballs} until we were too stuffed for the main dinner.

Cheddar Crab Melts on Baguettes

I decided to update the crab melt and make it a mainstay for dinner by using sourdough baguettes instead. Since I’m always last minute with weeknight dinners, I developed a cheddar-crab mixture for a cheddar-crab melt I can make up in advance.

This recipe is based on my favorite crab cakes method {from my Seattle days} with scallion and lemon for a bright flavor. I mix in grated cheddar then add more on top before broiling. Because, yes, we want it very melty!

While the broiler preheats, I just spread it on the baguettes cut in half. You can also use this crab mix on flat breads like this pita, crusty bread or even English muffins.

Cheddar-crab melts after broiling

Quality crab meat, like Dungeness crab, is a serious luxury item. But one of the benefits my aunt knew all along was that these cheddar-crab melts make a little crab meat go far.

A single two-pound Dungeness crab yields about 8 ounces of meat. {It does take patience to pick out the meat, but it is definitely worth it.}

That makes these cheddar-crab melts a budget-friendly and family-friendly meal, appetizer or special work from home lunch. I served it with fresh salad greens on top for the adults and a side salad for the kids.

Since whole crab isn’t available everywhere, I also developed the recipe using surimi, aka fake crab.

Why Surimi?

This is the stuff in the center of your California roll.

I had always believed that this imitation crab was like Velveeta cheese–not real food. But in fact, surimi is a valued, centuries-old Japanese food product.

It is a “functional food” of ground and stababilized fish proteins, according to the Oregon State University Seafood Research Laboratory. So, while it is a processed food, the ingredients generally include pollock and whiting in the US with crab flavoring.

Both are considered sustainable fisheries. So, surimi can be a much better choice than many imported canned crab products, or you can search for sustainably harvested crab products here.

Either way, you’re in for a treat: the flavors of cheddar and crab meat are one of those magical combinations.

Especially when served hot and bubbling.

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Sharp Cheddar-Crab Baguette Melts

For this crab mixture, use the best quality crab meat you can find or use flake surimi. This recipe is based on my experience making Dungeness crab cakes, adding lemon juice and scallion for brightness. The sharp cheddar is mixed into the filling with additional for melting on top under the broiler. In place of the baguettes, use English muffins, flat breads or sliced artisan breads for serving as a casual dinner, special lunch or make-ahead appetizer.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword crab melt
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author lynnes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon
  • 3 scallions chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 8 ounces fresh, frozen or canned crab meat or flake-style surimi
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 baguette, sliced in half and through the middle lengthwise
  • mesclun mix, for serving optional

Instructions

  1. Make the dressing by blending the mayonnaise, lemon juice, dijon, scallion, parsley, paprika, pepper and salt in the bowl of a food processor until very smooth.

  2. If using surimi add it to the bowl and pulse 2-3 times just to break it up. Alternatively, combine the crab meat with the dressing in a mixing bowl. Taste the mixture for seasoning. Then, fold in half of the cheese (about 1 1/2 cups). This mixture can be prepared up to 1 day in advance.

  3. Preheat the broiler. Spread a portion of the crab meat mixture generously over the cut sides of the baguettes. Arrange them on a baking sheet and top with the remaining cheese.

  4. Broil until lightly browned and bubbling, about 3 minutes. (Keep your eye on the cheese and rotate, if necessary, for even browning.) Cut each baguette in half and serve topped with mesclun mix, if desired.

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