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Crab Imperial - As Filling for Portobella Mushrooms? Sides?

Turns out that we're having last-minute Thanksgiving guests. We're all pescatarian (do not eat mammals or fowl), so I'm scrambling to come-up with something that's relatively easy to make and will be festive. Non-traditional is fine.

Guests are bringing appetizers (and wine!).

I'll make a pear and Gorgonzola salad over field greens with a light dressing for a starter.

For the main, I'm thinking about using a basic Crab Imperial recipe and then using it as a filling for Portobella mushrooms. Would I roast the mushroom caps before stuffing them? Do a dry pan saute to cook them a bit? Or bake them, stuffed, without pre-cooking?

For sides, all I can come-up with is brussel sprouts roasted with garlic. I imagine, with the richness of the crab dish, we don't want anything creamy or heavy. I can do some homemade dinner rolls, too. But I think something else should be added and I've not a clue as to what that might be. Was thinking about roasted root vegetables, but I can't reconcile those flavors with the crab. Ideas?

Dessert will be a pumpkin roll (a pumpkin sponge filled with a whipped cream cheese frosting) and maybe a trashy Kahlua cake (because it's my favorite, I've not had it for ages, and "festive" to me screams CHOCOLATE).

Many, many thanks!

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  1. You could have a small shrimp cocktail as a starter. Then have your salad and brussels along with the portobello/crab entrée.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gail

      I like the idea of including shrimp, Gail - and maybe the bitterness of the greens in the salad might offset the richness of the crab imperial?

    2. I adore crab imperial, but I'd just serve it in ramekins (as it was served in the Baltimore of my youth) rather than as a stuffing for mushroom caps, which seems a bit weird to me -- especially Portobellos, which have such a strong flavor of their own

      If you'd like to serve fish or seafood that was likely served at the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving, then I'd lean towards clams or oysters, rather than crab. In fact a stuffing using clams works quite well in mushrooms.

      2 Replies
      1. re: masha

        Unfortunately, Masha, I don't have enough blue crab to serve all of us and I'm too late to have any overnighted (it's also far too expensive for our budget). I've called around to some local fishmonger places and some do have blue crab, but I can't get to their places while they're open. So, I need to have some way of stretching the crab that we have, without adding fillers, and I was thinking of the mushrooms as being added, well, bulk.

      2. I stuff potbello caps with crab all the time. I find they come out better if you don't pre-cook them. They get a bit too soft in my opinion. It also depends on how large the caps are.

        2 Replies
        1. re: josephlapusata

          Would you recommend larger caps (which is what I was envisioning), or medium ones and with the mediums, serving several to each diner?

          1. re: ElsieDee

            I would do one larger cap per diner

        2. I stuff portobellos a lot and have learned that it is important to both scrape the gills out and roast (til about half done,) and DRAIN them ahead of time. The gills release ugly dark liquid that you don't want on the plate. You don't want any of the mushroom moisture ruining the plating, that's why I always drain and blot before filling. Then, just fill with your cooked filling, top with your topping and bake/ broil right before serving. They're nice and substantial- the make a great main.

          Roasted or sauteed green beans with almonds? Roasted broccoli? Definitely something that retains some texture since your portobellos will be a softer item.

          7 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Yes, I second this. If you don't drain them the brown liquid is quite offputting and would certainly discolor the crab imperial a nasty shade of puke/mud brown. I usually precook the mushrooms a few minutes to help some of the liquid release then add the stuffing and only bake for a few to 10 minutes or so.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I, um, didn't precook portobellas the first time I made a mushroom stroganoff - it was the most unappetizing color! (Tasted great, but very difficult to get past that, well, visual mess.)

            2. re: weezieduzzit

              Weezie, I will scrape (learned that one the hard way!) and roast a bit. 350 for 10 minutes or so? Do you roast them in a baking dish or on a rack, so the liquids drain away?

              Interesting that you mentioned the green beans with almonds, as that has been floating around in my mind - maybe with toasted almonds?

              1. re: ElsieDee

                I roast them on a sheet pan and just pour off the liquid. Foil is handy.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Ah, yes, less pan scrubbing is always welcome! Thank you.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    I did the same as fldhky and flipped them over on paper towels to drain- 10 min at 350 sounds good, you'll see the liquid and know. And YES to toasted almonds. :)

              2. I think a nice sauteed spinach or arugula salad would be nice. Crab imperial is kind of rich so something light to balance it.

                5 Replies
                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Ooooohhhh ... I like the idea of sauteed spinach. Would you use garlic? Or something else? Or just straight spinach?

                  1. re: ElsieDee

                    Perhaps garlic, olive oil, shallots, maybe a dash of red pepper flakes.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Quick, easy, and flavorful - I think that we will be doing sauteed spinach!

                      1. re: ElsieDee

                        It's one of my favorites, so easy and always good. If you wanted to do something different you could do Swiss chard, but I love spinach.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          I love spinach, too, and always forget about how simple it is to prepare!