“The fruit known as the avocado is as adaptable as gelatin. It complements crab meat and other sea food and has a natural affinity for tomato and onion, oil and vinegar.” —Craig Claiborne, New York Times food critic, July 1963
Mad Men returns this Sunday, a fact which fans of the show are all-too painfully aware of, after its year-and-a-half television hiatus. The funny thing about the state of this show in the American zeitgeist is that people have either never seen it or talk about the Drapers and Joan Holloway Harris like they’re old friends. The season 5 premiere will apparently catch up with our friends circa mid-1966, and to get in the mood, I present you with a recipe from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars and Restaurants of Mad Men. Though “unofficial,” the book, by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin, is a lot of fun if you’re a fan, providing not just recipes but drawing links between a recipe, the episode in which it appeared and any larger social context. The avocado and crabmeat mimosa recipe I’m about to share is adapted from a recipe popularized by Jackie Kennedy.
Jackie Kennedy’s Avocado and Crabmeat Mimosa
Background: In Mad Men season 2, episode 1, Don and Betty Draper have a Valentine’s day drink at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel, followed by some room-service. While the Jackie Kennedy gives tour of the White House on television in the background, Betty orders a rare petit filet and half an avocado stuffed with crabmeat.
This was February 1962. Several months before Jackie’s televised tour of the White House, “Mrs. Kennedy had planned a state dinner in honor of Pakistan’s president, Ayub Kahn, and his wife,” according to Gelman and Zheutlin. Mint juleps were served, followed by a main course of “Poulet Chasseur.” Before the main course “came an appetizer Betty would have died for … Avocado and Crabmeat Mimosa. (In French cooking, the word mimosa indicates egg garnish.).”
This recipe is adapted from In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House, by Jackie’s social secretary Letitia Baldrige.
2 ripe avocados
1 scallion, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
Dash of hot pepper sauce
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Ground white pepper
8 ounces cook fresh crabmeat
2 cups watercress
2 hard-cooked egg yolks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1. Peel half of one avocado. In a small bowl, mash avocado half. Add scallion, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and hot pepper sauce. Stir until well combined. Reserve.
2. In separate bowl, stir together mayonnaise, chili sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and remaining teaspoon lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Reserve.
3. Peel remaining 1 1/2 avocados, cut into half-inch cubes, and place in a large bowl. Squeeze excess moisture from crabmeat. Add to cubed avocado and gently combine. Fold in mayonnaise mixture until crab and avocado are evenly coated.
4. Line bottoms of 6 chilled, open champagne glasses or small glass serving dishes with watercress. Divide crab mixture evenly among glasses. Top each with a dollop of mashed avocado mixture.
5. Press egg yolks through fine mesh sieve; combine with parsley in a small bowl. Sprinkle yolk/parsley mixture evenly over each portion. Mimosas can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 hours.
Stay tuned for a drink recipe from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook tomorrow.
Looking for a more modern twist on the avocado and crabmeat salad? See this “avocado stuffed with crabmeat maison” recipe from 30AEats; this baked avocado and crabmeat recipe from Nirmala Narine; or this crab meat, avocado, cilantro, red onion and lime dish from Gina’s Skinny Recipes.
Photo: 1) Nina Gallant, 2) Skinnytaste.com