Big Alex’s Crab Melts

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Lest you think I’m one of those people who gives themselves a nickname, fear not: “Big Alex” is my stepfather. My name, of course, is also Alex. The fact that we share a middle name as well doesn’t help. So, around the house, it’s “Big Alex” and “Little Alex.”

For his birthday, which was last Tuesday, Big Alex always requests crab melts.

I live very close to Dungeness Bay — after which the crab is named — but quite frankly, refrigerated fresh crab is easy to find, and pretty much just as good as if you steamed and cleaned your own crab. It’s a lot easier, too.

The melts described below are heavy on the crab, and light on the rest, so feel free to tinker with the ratios. With so few ingredients, it is important to use the best ones you can find, especially the cheese. Around here, the best cheese is Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, from Tillamook County, Oregon. Its cheeses, especially its cheddars, routinely win national and international awards. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory!

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Big Alex’s Crab Melts

Makes 12 appetizer servings or 4-6 dinner servings

20 oz. cooked Dungeness lump crab meat (refrigerated or steamed- 3-4 medium Dungeness crabs)
1/4 cup minced celery (quarter to a third of a stalk)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning (plus more to taste)
6 sourdough English muffins
3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (Tillamook recommended)

Pick through the crab to double/triple-check that there are no chunks of shell, because the packagers don’t always do a great job.

Mince the celery, and mix it with the garlic, tarragon, Old Bay, and mayonnaise. Taste for seasoning.

Add the crab, and mix thoroughly.

Split (with a fork) and toast all of the English muffins.

Put an oven rack on the highest slot, and turn your broiler on high.

Put the English muffin halves onto a baking sheet, and distribute as much crab salad as you can onto the muffins.

Put about 1/4 cup of the cheese onto each half.

Broil for 90 seconds-2 minutes, until the cheese melts and browns.

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