January 15, 2019 by Nicole Collins
We've reached the time of year when I start going through crab withdrawal.
There are a few defining characteristics of most Marylanders: We love our birds...Go Ravens and Go O's! We love our Old Bay on EVERYTHING! And, we love our crabs and beer.
Crab is a summertime staple for Marylanders, and you know me well enough by now to know that I don't need another reason to miss the summertime.
But really, I think it's the activity of picking crabs that Marylanders love so much. It's definitely a marathon, not a sprint. Having crabs takes some planning. You have to make sure you have newspaper to line your table. You have to make sure you have a few hours to sit, pick, and leisurely enjoy your sweet crabs. And, you have to make sure you've got some ice cold beer in the fridge to wash down your crabs
Thank goodness I live in a coastal state where I can buy fresh crab meat 24/7 at pretty much any local store no matter what time of year it is. I actually go to this hole in the wall spot near me for all of my seafood. It's one of these quick stop marts that looks like nothing on the outside. But, they've got the best seafood around for amazing prices. This place is one of the secret gems in my neighborhood.
It's funny, because I was having a chat with one of the girls that went on my Italy trip (whom I'd never met before the trip), and we realized we grew up in kind of the same area. Somehow, we got to talking about seafood, and she says “Oh, my mom has a guy.” Something made me ask her if her “guy” was at the Pop Shop, and she was like “YES!”
See...the locals know what's up!
To help fulfill my crab cravings during the off season, I've got an arsenal of recipes that are chock full of fresh crab. I've shared some with you before...like this Cream of Crab Soup or this Maryland Crab Dip. And, today we're scratching the next one off the list.
Today, we're making a Maryland favorite...Chicken Chesapeake!
Because we're on the Chesapeake Bay, we love to throw Chesapeake into the title of some of our classic regional dishes. For us, Chesapeake food typically means some kind of crab (or shrimp), Old Bay, cheese, and/or tomatoes are going to be in the dish. And, we're going to check off all of those things (except the shrimp) today!
We start with some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Ideally, you'll be able to find 4 small, perfectly portioned breasts. But, if you can only find the jumbo ones, you can easily slice them in half lengthwise to make four fillets on your own. The chicken gets spritzed with olive oil, seasoned with a little Old Bay, salt, and pepper, then tossed in the oven for a few mins to start roasting.
After about 10 mins, we're going to top the chicken with a creamy crab mix. The crab mix is very similar to a crab dip mix...just crab, cream cheese, and mayonnaise. We spread the crab mix to cover the entire surface of the chicken, top it with some fresh diced tomatoes, and sprinkle a little handful of shredded cheddar cheese on top before throwing it back in the oven to finish roasting.
That's it! Prep work is done!
The chicken comes out of the oven perfectly seasoned and perfectly juicy. The creamy crab on top melts in to the chicken, while the tomatoes add a pop of freshness to a rich, indulgent bite. The extra cheddar cheese is just an added bonus!
Despite this meal feeling totally luxurious, it's totally healthy! Lean proteins, minimal fat, yet tons of flavor...count me in! Serve it with a side salad or a little rice, and you've got the perfect meal. 100% #marylandgirl approved!
Alright guys, it's only Tuesday; but I'm already thinking about weekend brunch. I think a brekkie sammie sounds like a good idea for Saturday. You in?
'Til then...let's eat!
Serves: 4 Print
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ lb (8 oz) lump crab meat, picked through for shells
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp mayonnaise
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 roma tomato, seeds removed and diced
olive oil cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Lay chicken in a single layer in the casserole dish, and spray the top of the chicken with olive oil cooking spray. Season the top side of the chicken with with 1 tsp Old Bay, ¼ tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. Rub spices in to the meat, flip the chicken, and season the bottom of the chicken with the remaining Old Bay, salt, and pepper. Flip chicken back over (if necessary) so the top side (rounded side) of the breast is facing up. Bake for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the crab mix: In a mixing bowl, add crab meat, cream cheese, and mayo. Use your hands to combine the mix. After the chicken has been in the oven for 10 minutes, top each breast with crab meat mix, diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar, in that order and dividing evenly. Place back in oven, and bake for 20 more minutes until chicken is fully cooked through and reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees. Serve!
*Sometimes, the best kitchen tool we have is our hands. It's much easier to combine the crab mix with hands than with a spoon.
*If you can only find large chicken breasts, you can cut them in half lengthwise to make 4 fillets.
*You can be flexible with your mayo choice. Lowfat, EVOO mayo, and Miracle Whip all will work too. Same goes with cream cheese; lowfat or neufchatel will work as well.