Crabby Hand Pies

July 29, 2020 by Nicole Collins

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And, the uncontrollable desire for steamed crabs qualifies as desperate times, in my opinion.

In Maryland, steamed crabs are a way of life. We look forward to crab season, which technically runs from about the end of April through maybe mid October, all year.

Eating steamed crabs together is a communal activity. You get anywhere from a couple people to a feast's worth of people together, order a few dozens or a few bushels of crabs, then spend the afternoon drinking beer, picking crabs, and munching on sides like steamed shrimp and Eastern Shore corn on the cob. It's the epitome of the perfect afternoon.

But, COVID has changed this staple summer activity in many ways. I still don't feel safe being around people without a mask on (thank you media), and I don't do well wearing a mask. So, I've still been keeping to myself at home. And, that makes it pretty difficult to have a crab party with your loved ones when you're afraid to be around them.

Like I said, picking crabs is a communal activity. It's a marathon, not a sprint. It's something you need to dedicate hours to. It's definitely not a meal that you can rush through, so you get to spend hours chatting and laughing with your loved ones while you pick through the most intricate parts of the beloved shellfish. So, when I made the decision to order crabs to eat by myself, that was a sign of pure desperation. I went back and forth about it for days, because I knew it wouldn't be nearly as fun having crabs by myself. But I ultimately decided to do it, and I'm so glad that I did. Because, they were freaking delicious!

And, I had extra crabs left over that I couldn't eat, so I picked them, saved the meat, and used it for today's recipe. Today, we're making Crabby Hand Pies!

Thankfully, though picking steamed crabs is a summertime activity, fresh crab meat is available year round. So, you can make these delicious pastries any time you'd like!

Let's start with the shell. We're going to use puff pastry as the pocket for our hand pies. We roll the store bought dough out nice and thin, cut it into 6 inch circles, then get ready to stuff them with a creamy, crabby mixture.

For our filling, we're going to use my basic crab dip recipe which you guys have seen a thousand times in a thousand different ways. So, lump crab meat, softened cream cheese, mayo, cheddar cheese, and Old Bay are all going into our mix. But, I also had some corn on the cob leftover from my crab feast for one; so I decided to throw some fresh corn and chopped chives into the mix too. And let me tell you...it was the right decision!

Once we stuff the filling in our pastries, we're going to use a fork to seal them shut nice and tight. Then, we're going to brush them with egg wash to help them get golden brown, sprinkle them with a little extra Old Bay for good measure, and cut little slits on top so these don't explode in the oven. Once they're prepped, we bake until their perfectly golden; and we get ready to eat!

I like to serve these alongside a fresh summer salad of corn, avocado, tomatoes, and shallot. But really, you could eat these with anything. They're perfectly buttery and flaky on the outside. They're perfectly creamy and full of that coastal flavor on the inside. And, the little pops of corn kernels in the crab mix add a nice textural surprise. It's basically a walking crab feast in the palm of your hand!

Though I MUCH prefer enjoying a crab feast with my friends and family by my side, I now know that it can also be acceptably fun with That 70's Show playing on my iPad next to me to help keep me company. And, it's totally worth it if I can make more of these hand pies when I'm done.

That's all I've got for today. Stay safe, enjoy, and let's eat!

Crabby Hand Pies

Serves: 4 Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

  • 1 cup (about 6 oz) lump crab meat

  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened

  • 1 tsp mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

  • ½ cup (1 ear) corn, thawed if frozen or removed from the cob

  • 1 tbsp chives, minced

  • ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning, plus more for dusting

  • 1 egg, well beaten

  • flour, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To a mixing bowl, add crab meat, cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar, corn, chives, and ½ tsp Old Bay. Stir well to combine. Set aside.

  2. On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to shape puff pastry sheet in to a 13x13 inch square. Cut out 4 6-inch circles, and discard remaining scraps. Evenly divide crab mix between 4 circles, and place mix in the center of each circle (see pics in post). Fold the pastry over the filling to create a half moon shape, gently pressing around the filling to push out excess air and to slightly flatten the filling. Pinch seems together with your fingers. Transfer hand pies to prepared baking sheet, and use a fork to seal the edges.

  3. Add a splash of water (about 1 tsp) to the well beaten egg, and beat with a fork to combine it with the egg. Use a pastry brush to brush egg wash over the top of each hand pie. Sprinkle each hand pie with a pinch of Old Bay. Use a sharp knife to cut 3 slits in the middle of each pastry. Bake for 15-17 mins until pastry is golden brown. Serve!

Recipe notes:

*Since 2 sheets of puff pastry come in a pack, you could absolutely double the crab mix and make 8 hand pies. You won't need to make any additional egg wash.

*Use fresh crab meat as opposed to crab from a can or krab, if you can.

*You could cut out smaller circles to make these appetizer size if you want. Still roll the puff pastry to the same thinness, though. The baking time should be the same within a minute or two.

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