Ain’t nothing like the real thing

When it comes to crab, my life can be broken up into two periods – imitation and real. There was a time period where I could eat imitation crab in subs and dips and somehow will my brain and taste buds into pretending it was actually comparable to the experience of eating the real deal. Then I started making this Hot Artichoke Crabmeat Dip from Pampered Chef. As with most recipes, I took my own measures with this one to make this extra delicious, with the first alteration being I used real crab instead of imitation. And there’s been no going back since.

I will be upfront with you about this. Canned lump crab meat is expensive. This recipe calls for 8 ounces of crab. I decided to double the recipe so I could have the dip on-hand to bring to the three or four holiday parties I’m invited to. East Avenue Wegmans only offers a 16 ounce can of crab which costs about $25. With the rest of the ingredients and bread to serve it with, the dip costs a total of about $40 to make.

I rationalized it this way – I only make the dip around the holidays, and I’ll get three to four uses from it, so that’s about $10-15 for each party, the same I would typically spend on a side dish. And this isn’t just any side dish. It’s a dip fit for a king.

Here’s what you’ll need for a single batch:

8 oz. of imitation or real lump crabmeat

14 ounces of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 cup of mayonnaise

1 garlic clove pressed

8 oz. cream cheese softened

4 oz. of grated fresh parmesan cheese

½ cup of thinly sliced scallion including the tops

1/8 teaspoon of black pepper

½ cup of red bell pepper

1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl and mix well. Add the pressed garlic and mix. Drain the artichokes. Chop the artichokes and add them to the bowl. If you use lump crab you can just shred it up with your hands and add it to the mixture. If you are using imitation, you’ll want to chop it up before you add it. Add the cheese, the zest of one lemon, pepper, half of the scallions and half of the red peppers. Mix all the ingredients together well.

Spoon the mixture into a pie or baking dish. Top with a little more cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown along the edges. Sprinkle with additional red pepper and scallions and serve with fresh bread.

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