Killing Them Softly: Crab Ring

cookbooks

EDITOR’S NOTE: My recent discovery of our families’ collection of 1970s era church cookbooks has been nothing short of a conversation piece around Al Dente HQ. The kind-hearted and well-intentioned women behind these recipes set cooking back years, all the while trying to kill their families with butter, shortening and lard. Not wanting to hog the glory and splendor for myself, it is my pleasure to share these classic culinary gems with you. These are the original recipes with very little editing. If you have one of these around your house or find one at your parent’s home, please contact me. I would love to get my hands on it.

RECIPE: Crab Ring
AUTHOR: Linda Viggiano
COOKBOOK: Our Lady of Pompeii’s Society of St. Therese Cookbook
APPROXIMATE YEAR: 1973

WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS? My wife’s cousin’s husband calls it “Jello with stuff.” It’s a fixture at every holiday and no one under the age of 60 (except for my brother-in-law) will touch the stuff. There, on the buffet line with all of the other acceptable food, is this bowl of red Jello. Loaded with berries, pineapple or some other fruit, it sits there trying to pass itself off as real food. Like a Kia on a lot full of Cadillacs. It’s the last kid picked for kickball. The guy who sits all of the way at the end of the bench by the trainer and managers.

Classic French cuisine uses aspic, a gelatin made with consomme. In the 1970s America, it was not unheard of to find seafood or meat locked in a gelatin mold. Like suspended animation or a cryogenically frozen body, there would be imitation crabmeat or cocktail shrimp or, worse, canned tuna.

I offer this recipe as a reminder of how far we’ve come…from the crab ring to crab dip.

Crab Ring

  • 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. cooking sherry
  • 3/4 tsp. seasoning salt
  • 1 6 oz. package crabmeat
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper (black)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 oz. jar pimentos, chopped and drained

Dissolve gelatin in water and add sherry. Let set. Take cream cheese and blend in remaining ingredients one at a time (blend by hand). Pour in gelatin and sherry, and blend. Pour into 3-quart mold and chill 4 hours. Unmold and serve with chips and crackers. 

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