One great thing about going to the Eastern Shore often is the people you meet and, for me, talking about local food. Crab dishes are serious business for most Marylanders. The best crab cake, seasoning, soft shell, picking method, hot dip and crab imperial. Growing up in Pennsylvania I had no idea how my Southern neighbors felt about their beloved Chesapeake blue crab. My very first crab dish was imperial at a place named Spittles off Route 40. I fell in love with the first bite.
I graduated to hard and soft shells and haven't looked back but will always have a special place in my heart for the imperial version. I found a version from the 1950s that was super simple and, with some adjustments, created a thick, creamy version that was a hit with family and neighbors.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour. Let bubble and cook for 3 minutes with a whisk. Add the rest of the ingredients other than crab and continually whisk until thick and creamy. Turn off the heat and gentle fold in the crab. Fill shells or custard cups and bake until bubbling and slightly brown on top.