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#112 National Hard Crab Derby

Crisfield, Maryland

The festival grounds, the cooking contest kitchen, Hon Lawson's private pier, and Handy's soft-shell crabs processing plant.

Guest Chef:
John Pachkowski

Blue Ribbon Crab Quesadillas
Crab Cakes, Crisfield Style
Johnny's Sauteed Softs

John visits Crisfield, exploring the soft-shell crab industry and experiencing the 50th Annual National Hard Crab Derby Festival.

Producer's Notes:
We shot 8 hours of b-roll footage for this show--for those who don't know, that's a lot! Our editor nearly fainted when he saw the tapes. The crew loved taping Handy's, as they gave us free caps and t-shirts. Guest chef John was a last-minute addition to the show; we discovered him upon our arrival. (As a result, his recipe is not in the book, but you can view it below.) The shoot ended with a bang when we celebrated on SideStreet Restaurant's outdoor deck, eating crabs and drinking beer, and watching the festival's fireworks. We only wish we could have arrived sooner to tape the Miss Crustacean beauty pageant.

Related Links:

Crisfield, Maryland


Recipe from the show

Blue Ribbon Crab Quesadillas
This recipe, created by John Pachkowski, was the Grand Prize Winner of Crisfield’s National Hard Crab Derby Cooking Contest in 1994. We met John while taping the 1997 cooking contest, and we were so impressed by his cooking skills we invited him to appear on the show. You can see his wife Mary Alice on the show, too; she was one of the photographers in the kitchen.

Serves 6 to 8

* 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
* 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
* 1⁄2 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
* 1⁄2 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
* 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1 package of 6-inch corn or flour tortillas
* 1/8 teaspoon cumin
* 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/3 cup mayonnaise
* 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped finely
* 11⁄2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded (1⁄2 cup reserved)
* 11⁄2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1⁄2 cup reserved)
* 1 tablespoon olive (or vegetable) oil
* Juice of 1⁄2 medium lime
* 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
* Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a skillet heat the oil on medium heat and add the peppers, onion, and garlic, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until translucent. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the crabmeat, cilantro, mayonnaise, cayenne pepper, cumin, 1 cup each of the cheeses, jalapeno pepper, and lime juice. Fold ingredients gently, so as to avoid breaking crab meat.

Place six tortillas on a large baking sheet. Equally divide pepper, onion, and garlic mixture on each tortilla. Equally divide crabmeat mixture on the tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of crab mixture. Cover each of the tortillas with those in package. Lightly spray top of each tortilla with cooking spray.

Bake in oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and quarter each tortilla. Garnish with lime slice and serve salsa, sour cream, and guacamole as accompaniments.


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