Cornish Crab Pie

Once eaten, never forgotten. This is a nineteenth-century recipe of surpassing delicacy and richness. It is perhaps a dish to eat once in five years. The crabs are best if freshly caught. A lettuce salad on a separate plate is the only possible accompaniment.


  • 2 large crabs
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons claret
  • ½ stick (60 g) butter
  • 2 to 3 artichoke hearts, boiled (tinned will do)
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
  • 24 white grapes, pitted
  • ½ lb (240 g) asparagus, boiled until just tender, or 1 small tin asparagus tips
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Generous cup (120 g) clotted cream
  • ¾ lb (360 g) puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Have the crabs dressed. Remove all the claw meat. Mix the rest of the meat with the nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and claret. Set aside. Butter a pie dish, put in the artichoke hearts, and on them put the chopped eggs, then the spiced crabmeat, and then the grapes and asparagus tips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pour in the orange juice. Spread the cream on top and into the cream push all the meat from the crabs’ claws.

Roll out the pastry, press the edges of the covering crust on to the pie dish to seal, decorate with a rose and gild with the egg yolk. Bake at 450°F (230°C, Gas Mark 8) for 25 minutes and serve immediately.