I’m planning a trip to go to Dorset next weekend with my friend Sarah. Dorset his her hometown and I’m really excited to get out of London, see a new area, and learn about where she grew up. But, thinking about her hometown made me a nostalgic for my hometown. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of Baltimore. I haven’t lived in Maryland since 2008, but I still feel a strong pull to my home state.
Maryland might be a small state, but it’s got a lot going on. Maryland has lots of waterside vacation spots from the Chesapeake Bay, Deep Creek Lake, and Ocean City. Sure, Ocean City isn’t the fanciest or classiest beach, but it’s a beach and that’s awesome. Maryland is the home of the Star Spangled Banner, major sports teams, the Wire, and Hairspray. Yeah, the Wire makes Baltimore seem a little scary, but that show was amazing. If you haven’t seen it go out and watch it immediately. Maryland has busy cities like Baltimore and picturesque ones like Annapolis. And finally, Maryland has a sweet flag, an awesome accent, one-eyed Natty Boh, and most importantly for me delicious food. See, I told you Maryland has a lot going on.
But most famously, Maryland is known for crabs. Steamed crabs, crab cakes, crab bisque, and crab dip…yum. All of it delicious. And then I got the idea for crab grilled cheese – which might possibly my perfect dream food. This sandwich has lots of cheese, Old Bay, crabs, and buttery bread. I’ve never put anything in grilled cheese besides cheese before – and now I’m not sure I can go back to plain grilled cheese.
This item is the kind of thing that I’d find on a menu of a fancy-ish, trendy-ish, dinner. It would cost like $12, and I’d think, “that’s a lot for a sandwich at a dinner,” but then I’d do it because I had to know. Then I’d order it, and maybe it wouldn’t be as cheesy, gooey, or as full of crab as I wanted. I’d scarf it down anyway, still enjoying it, and then wish I had more and feel sad.
Don’t worry, I’ve solved that hypothetical problem. Now I can make this perfect sandwich at home. When Ryan and I scarf down the first round too quickly, I can just make a second round and stack the ingredients higher. Ryan and I ate two sandwiches and afterwards he asked if there was more crab in the fridge. Yes, yes there was. So there will be more sandwiches this week. Are you jealous yet? If you’re still not sold, Ryan said this was the best thing I’ve ever made. Yes, he’s my husband and has to say nice things, but c’mon. That’s high praise.
A few notes on method. I used sour dough bread which I loved. The bread absorbs the butter and get perfectly golden and really crispy – which is delicious and good for the structural integrity of the sandwich. (Or more specifically, it won’t flop about as you hold it or bite it) However, if you have regular old sandwich bread in the house, use that – it’s what I’d use for an ordinary grilled cheese.
Second, how do you butter your grilled cheese? My friend might not remember this, and I don’t know why I do, but years ago when we lived together, I was talking with my friend Shadur about grilled cheese and she said she buttered the bread, and I said I buttered the pan. We both looked at each other shocked, both of us thinking “why on earth do you do that?” I don’t think it ever occurred to us that there was another way to butter the bread for grilled cheese. I think buttering the bread is most efficient and makes the pan less dirty. However, I still butter the pan because then I can go crazy with the butter, reapply butter easily if I need to, and because sometimes buttering bread rips it up. Do what feels right to you, it’s no biggie.
Messy level: Because of all the stuff you’re adding, this is messier than a regular grilled cheese. You’ll need a bowl to prep your sandwich insides and a skillet. There’s lot of opportunity for the sandwich to ooze out – which leads to a bigger mess – but in this case I also think it makes the food more delicious.
- ½ cup crab meat
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1½ teaspoons Old Bay
- pepper, pepper to taste
- 1 heaping teaspoon mince green onions
- ¼ cup shredded Gruyere, plus more for sprinkling
- ¼ cup shredded Cheddar, plus more for sprinkling
- 2-3 tablespoons butter
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- In a small bowl (the one you use for cereal is fine), mix together the crab meat, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay, a bit of pepper, and the green onions. Mix it well, then taste, and adjust as you see fit. (Most prepared crab meat is cooked so you can taste it)
- Mix the Gruyere and Cheddar to the crab mixture. Mix until everything is coated.
- Now take your bread. On two slices, sprinkle a little extra Gruyere. (The cheese is your glue to hold it all together)
- Top each of those two slices with half of the crab mixture.
- Top the crab mixture with a little extra Cheddar.
- Place the second piece of bread on top. Press gently to squish it all together.
- In a large skillet on medium to medium-high heat, melt 1-1½ tablespoons of butter.
- Once the skillet is nice and hot, add the sandwich. Cook until the bread is golden brown. This will take a few minutes, and it's ok to lift it up and check it.
- Lift the sandwich out of the skillet and melt the rest of the butter. Flip the sandwich and put it back into the skillet with the untoasted side down (golden brown, cooked side up).
- Cook until the cheese is melted and the second side is golden brown. Adjust the heat as you go if you feel the bread is getting dark too quickly.
- Remove from heat, cut in half, and serve.