Well we are coming upon the final big weekend of the summer with Labor Day. I like many other people have taken on some new projects during the past 18, or so, months. I am usually on the road sampling and selling our crab meat all over the US without allot of free time for things like become an “urban farmer”. It started with growing a few herbs in the windowsill, to moving to a standing planter, to multiple planters. Then came the chickens. At the beginning of the summer we drove out to a farm in central New Jersey to pick up our two day old baby Silkie chickens. My wife had promised there were only four, but somehow we got an “extra” one. From there our garage turned into a giant incubator system with various containers, heating plates, even a small pup tent that my Father in Law used his ingenuity to connect with a series of chicken tunnels. The chicks have moved out into their new fancy coop and soon I will be able to share a video of a crab cake with Hollandaise using my very own eggs! This was a picture from a recent recipe that I think captures the spirit of the end of Summer, a velvety corn and leek bisque (made with local NJ corn, however, my wife did ask about planting some corn for the chickens, stay tuned) and finished with some of our delicious crab meat and a drizzle of pesto.
The Newport International sales team is getting excited to get back out on the road and see some of our customers. We have a number of upcoming food shows across the Country and are gearing up for our “Fall 2021 Tour”. We have been working on some new recipes that we feel are in-line with the current market. Just like many other items, crab has been scarce during the Covid lockdowns with very limited supply and all time highs on costs. We have focused on using some of our smaller, more affordable grades like our Claw, Special and Backfin Lump. The idea of crab bringing some luxury to your table while still being affordable from a food cost standpoint. I developed 2 simple, yet elegant recipes using the same 9 ingredients (including our crab meat) and using inexpensive and very accessible ingredients like rice or frozen corn. Crab has a place on your menu just as much as it does on your family dinner table, from special occasions to everyday meals, we have options and ideas.
A restaurant has a pantry just like you do at home. The key to success is limiting the amount of ingredients in this pantry as much as possible. The reasons for this are reducing waste, increased control over costing and quality. Reduce waste by reducing loss due to spoilage or not utilizing all aspects of ingredients. An example would be making stocks using the vegetable scraps and bones from proteins as opposed to throwing these items out our paying premiums for further processed items such as fileted fish versus fileting inhouse. When I work with restaurants I look at their menus and build a pantry of ingredients that they are currently utilizing and try to use these ingredients and our crab (or other seafood item) and as few new ingredients as possible. SO working on new recipe ideas and how can you use one (or maybe two) central ingredients and build a wide variety of menu applications or recipes with the addition of just a few other ingredients. The started with the idea for a classic Spanish style crab croquette with some Spanish style chorizo sausage added kick. Besides our crab meat, the base of the recipe is a béchamel cream sauce with some Spanish Manchego cheese and a sauté of minced chorizo, with roasted peppers, shallot and garlic. So what else can you make with these 3 items and the addition of a couple other ingredients, some creativity and a little cooking skill? I stopped at 20, however, there are many, many more.
We are finally coming out of Winter in New England and really looking forward to some warm weather. Living on the shore, this means seafood, fishing, crabbing, surfing and lots and lots of sand in my car. Well my littlest one, recently turned 6, is so excited for her Pop to get his boat in the water and get their 7 crab traps out. Since before she could walk the two of them have been catching crab together. Starting on the dock with a chicken bone tied to a string, then getting a license and proper crab trap and adding a couple more traps every year. She gets so excited as the traps come up out of the water, always hoping for an overflowing catch, but usually only getting a few. The two of them steam the the crabs and she will watch as Pop and Grammy pick the meat (a very labor intensive endeavor). It is a way of life for many here, just as it is all over the world. The process is pretty much the same for my daughter and Father in Law as it is for our crab we sell. Wild caught, in traps, steam cooked live, chilled and hand picked. We love our crab.
Whether you are a restaurant chef looking to easily add crab to your menu or you are a home chef and are a planning a crab dinner party and want a variety of items with very little additional work or ingredients, we have some great recipe ideas for you. A classic hot crab dip is perfect on its own, just served with some crackers, crostini or crudite, but there are lots more way to serve it. Use it as a stuffing for vegetables or even as a sauce on a piece of grilled fish. The recipe for a crab cake mix, using our very affordable frozen crab, also makes an excellent stuffing for everything from artichokes to salmon. The options are only limited to your creativity.
As 2020 has finally come to an end and we are all hopeful for a much less eventful 2021, it is my job to start looking for new ways to use our crab meat. As dining out was limited we saw more and more home chefs emerging all over the internet. It is amazing all the cooking groups from sourdough bread to charcuterie boards and everything in between. There seems to be a group for everyone, well if you love crab, this is the place to be. 2020 did allow us the time to finally add an online store where our customers can order our delicious crab delivered right to their house. For me it meant my littlest one, five year old Grace, was finally ready and even sometimes excited to cook with Dad. Well, our New Year’s Eve charcuterie/seafood display was a perfect time for Grace to show off her crab cake skills. From picking the crackers to use as the binder (she decided on little club crackers over her standard Ritz crackers and perfectly crushed them in a ziplock bag. She went with jumbo lump crab, not the easiest to work with without breaking up the whole pieces. My favorite recipe, 1 egg, 2 TBS mayonnaise, 1 TBS Dijon, 2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (and me trying to get her to properly pronounce Worcestershire). Gently mixed with a rubber spatula and used a 4oz portion scoop to form them on a buttered, parchment lined baking sheet and a drizzle of melted butter over the top just before cooking. A cooking video featuring grace is coming soon. Check back often.
Our crab claw meat is the go to for any bold flavored recipe where you need the true crab flavor to come through. As I always say, the claw meat is the chicken thigh of the crab, the dark meat. The pronounced flavor of the crab claw shine in many recipes where the flavor of our other white meat grades like lump and jumbo lump will get lost. As the claw meat has the largest yield of all the grades of crab (over 30% of the total) it is also the most affordable of all of our grades. It is our go to for all bold flavored recipes from Creole to Southwest and everything in between. We will be showcasing different grades of our crab to make sure you are using the right crab for your recipes.
With over two decades in the food business, from restaurants to food manufacturing and everything in between, one rule never changes, food safety is job number one. Last weekend I was giving driving lessons to my son, who just turned 16. I made him keep practicing the same turns, over and over. I explained to him that the basics of driving need to be second nature, much like washing your hands or covering your mouth if you cough or sneeze. As a company, we have policies and practices in place to ensure the safety of our products, from the time it leaves the water to the moment it arrives at your door. The same is true with our customers, many of the best restaurants across this country. As people begin to limit their exposure and worry about contamination, we will continue to provide not only safe food, but also the most delicious. Whether it is from one you favorite local restaurants or from your local retailer, just grab some crab and go. We have endless recipes on our website to entice even the most sophisticated palate. We will keep fishing for the best crabs, you all stay safe, wash those hands, support your local restaurants and retailers and remember sometimes the little things, like a great meal can help you get through, and who doesn’t love a good crab cake!
We are bringing back on of my favorite items for home use of our crab, the 8oz cup. Sometimes a full pound of crab can be too much for a small dinner, our 8oz cups to the rescue. Perfect as an ingredient in a recipe or to used to upscale a dish with the addition of a little crab. As a chef I often find I want to add a little crab to a recipe, especially this time of year when making soups and stews. A little crab added to a cioppino or a gumbo or even as a garnish on a refreshing winter citrus and shaved fennel salad. I have updated a few of our most popular recipes to use our 8oz cups and as with all of our recipes; there will be more coming in the future! I even added a crab cake recipe, because, even though our crab “isn’t just for crab cakes”, it does make THE BEST crab cakes, and I’m not even from Maryland.
The New 8oz Crab Recipes
– Classic Crab Cakes
– Maryland Style Hot Crab Dip
– Crab Cocktail Dip
– Steak Oscar with Crab, Asparagus and Hollandaise
– Crab and Green Chile Queso
– Crab, Beer – Cheese Dip (this has been one of the most popular recipes recently)
– Crab and Corn Chowder
Last month we had a company trip to visit a customer and have a sales meeting. As much as we all travel, we are all rarely together. We have a small team spread across the country, with everyone having been with the company for over 5 years, except, of course, our latest addition Ms. Bailey Cahill. Over the 10 years I have been with Newport I have traveled the country countless times with each member of our sales team (we joke that some of us spend more time together on the road than we do with our families), but rarely are more than 2 or 3 of us together on the road. The scene reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Vacation, as Craig Hospodor, our SVP of Sales, pulled up to the baggage claim at the St. Louis airport in a massive passenger van that was already loaded with the entire Newport sales team. The only thing that seemed to be missing was Aunt Edna being strapped to the roof. I knew we were headed on an adventure, one to be remembered and for some to be reminded of for years to come. I am very lucky to have some of the best coworkers, all of whom I consider good friends, and yes, they all are invited to my Birthday Party. Between our team there is over a century of experience in all aspects of the seafood industry. I am always amazed by how much knowledge and experience each person has amassed over the years, and humbled by how much I still have to learn. Well, four days and many miles and adventures later, we were back in the van headed to the airport to head back home. We had shared some great conversations, had some killer new “road stories” to load into the database and all shared a strong sense of teamwork and excitement for the future of Newport International. Go team Newport!