Crab Cones - Leftover Chef

Posted Apr 25, 2006
Last Updated May 17, 2006
Have you ever stared at your fridge or pantry and thought, “there is nothing to eat?” Me too. Just this afternoon in fact. Whenever I think these words, I get tempted to order a pizza, or go grab a burger. But some days, I take it as a challenge, and come up with some good food from seemingly random leftovers and pantry items.

If you just want the recipe, skip to the end, what follows is a narrative, and an in depth look at what each ingredient does.

Looking through my fridge I found a bag with some chopped onion. Onion makes a great foundation for any meal, so I pulled it out for inspiration. I also grabbed a bag that had one sad, lonely, burrito tortilla left over from Tex-mex night. With thoughts of fajita or tacos in my head I looked in the freezer for some meat. Nothing caught my eye, so I tried the pantry. It was lunch time so I needed some protein for my meal. Beans just weren’t sounding great, and so I thought maybe some canned roast beef, or tuna. Then I found it, a can which has been on the shelf for several months now, always ignored. A can of crab meat.

Inspiration hit, and I gathered the remaining ingredients. I couldn’t find any bread crumbs, and I didn’t have any stale bread to make some, so I opted for some very stale Ritz crackers. Seriously, these things had to be 5 months old. So I started out making some sort of toritlla-wrapped crab cake.

Here is each ingredient and what purpose it has in the dish.

Butter is going to add some flavor, and by browning it, a little nutty flavor comes out. Butter is also 20% water, so it adds a bit of moistness.

Onions are serving double duty here. Even very well cooked onions will add a bit of crunchyness that will give the dish more depth. More importantly, browned onions will replace some of the sweetness that crab meat loses in the canning process.

Crackers primarily add bulk. Bread crumbs were my first instinct, but the Ritz added a nice flavor. Also, since Ritz crackers are salty, I did not need to add salt to the dish.

Pure flavor here. I used fresh ground pepper, and Hungarian paprika for earthiness, and dried cilantro as a bright tone which compliments the crab nicely. I did not need to use salt because of the crackers. If you use bread, make sure to add a pinch of kosher salt when you brown the onions.

The milk moistens the crackers and helps give it that delightful creamy texture when cooked.

Crab meat
The central ingredient. Although draining the liquid reduced the sweetness, it also reduced the fishiness. Sweetness can be replaced, the fishiness I prefer to go down the drain.

The egg is a binder. Without the egg, the filling would not be easy to eat with a fork, and would dry out during cooking.

A convenient delivery device. Phyllo dough would have worked better, but the tortilla cones were kind of cool looking. If you are looking to make it a little lower in carbohydrates, cook the crab meat in ramekins.

Taste, texture and color.

For the sauce, I chose to make it very buttery, because that’s how I like my seafood. The wing sauce added some kick, and the lime juice helped to make the whole thing a little less fishy.

Overall, it turned out really well. I ate the second portion as a snack, and it reheated fairly well in my toaster oven. (350 F for 10 minutes.) Reheating will cause the crab to get fishier and less sweet.

Crab cones
2 T. butter
1/4 c. chopped onions
6 Ritz crackers
Spices (pepper, cilantro, paprika)
2 T. milk
1 (6 oz.) can of crab meat, drained.
1 egg
1 burrito-sized Tortilla
1/4 c. shredded cheese

Frying pan
Muffin tin
Mixing bowl
Nonstick spray

Dipping Sauce
2 T. Butter
1 T. Texas Pete wing sauce
Juice of 1/2 Lime

Microwave safe bowl

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in frying pan on medium-high heat and brown slightly. Add 1/4 cup of chopped onions, and sauté until browned. Crumble in Ritz crackers, add spices and milk. Stir until milk is absorbed. Take pan off heat and add crabmeat, stir until mixed. Move mixture to a bowl, add egg, and mix.

Cut tortilla shell in half. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Form shells into cones and fold over bottoms so the cone won’t leak. Put the two cones into the muffin tin. Scoop crab mixture into cones. Top mixture with cheese. (I prefer Swiss for this, but use your favorite.)

Bake at 375 F for 20 Minutes. The top of the tortilla shell will be crisp, the cheese browned, and a toothpick inserted into the crab mixture will come out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Make the sauce by melting the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Mix in the wing sauce and at least half of the lime juice. Add more lime to taste. (Don’t skip the lime. The acidity will help cut down of the fishiness of canned crab.)

Serves 2.

The "Leftover Chef" makes simple food out of leftovers and random pantry ingredients. His main goal is to help other people learn how to make great food with what they've already got on hand.


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