I don’t get some people’s ideas about crab. Crabmeat has a rich buttery, slightly sweet and delicate flavor. Because of its delicate flavor, many people tell you that you lightly season crabmeat so the crabmeat shines on its own. How many times have we all heard that nonsense? About 14 months ago, Baby Lady and I went to a nice restaurant where they served jumbo lump crabmeat in an avocado shell as an appetizer. The idea seemed good until they brought out the appetizer. Then you realized the execution was a disaster. The crabmeat was scooped on top of the avocado shell. Although the avocado was sliced inside it had not been loosened from the shell and you couldn’t tell by looking at the dish the avocado had been sliced. It was difficult to eat without making a mess and had very little flavor because there was absolutely NO seasoning, no salt, no nothing. Just cold lump crabmeat and an avocado you didn’t know what to do with. When we spoke to the executive Chef (the restaurant had been open less than a month), the Chef’s response was “crab is so delicate you just don’t want to season it. You want the crabmeat to shine on its own.” The real truth is the Chef had no idea what to do with crabmeat! No wonder the place went out of business 9 months later. This dish is a beautifully seasoned preparation of crab that I guarantee you will enjoy. Oh, and the crabmeat really shines despite being seasoned. 😉
When we went to the store this past weekend to get the gruyere cheese for the French Onion Soup and the shrimp for the Relleno de Camarones, we also bought some crabmeat. We had originally considered stuffing the relleno with shrimp and crab but eventually decided that would be a little much. So now we had a pound of beautiful crabmeat without a stated purpose. Hmmm…what to do, what to do? Then I remembered this dish – a blast from the past.
Crab mornay is another one of the dishes I learned early on when I was training to be a Chef. As in this dish, we served it as an open face sandwich for lunch with a nice green garden salad. You get the luscious, creamy, nuttiness of the gruyere cheese melted into the Half & Half, the subtle onion flavor from the scallions, the earthy, floral flavor from the parsley, the delicate sweetness of the crabmeat and the hint of heat from the cayenne. All of this is cut with the crispness and lightness of a fresh garden salad with a lemon mustard vinaigrette. It’s Nirvana. Then to make it even better, the whole recipe from start to finish takes less than 30 minutes so it is perfect for a weeknight meal. It’s what we had for dinner last night and it was wonderful, not to mention very filling from the richness of the dish. Next time you buy some crabmeat, give your tastebuds a treat and make this dish. Elegant, quick and simple. How can you not like a dish like this?
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 bundle scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Italian flat parsley, minced
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 Pt Half and Half
- 1/2 lb Gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 Tbsp sherry (optional)
- salt, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 lb lump crabmeat
- 4 Sourdough English muffins
Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add scallions and parsley and sauté over low heat. Cook just until soft, not brown.
Now blend in flour.
When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the butter, add the Half & Half and stir to incorporate.
Now add the cheese and cook gently over medium low to low heat until the cheese has melted and is fully incorporated into the sauce, roughly 7 minutes.
Add salt and cayenne pepper and stir to incorporate.
While the sauce is still over medium low heat add the optional sherry and gently fold in the crabmeat trying not to break it up. Allow crabmeat to heat through. Remove from heat.
Place 2 halves of toasted English muffin on serving plate. Ladle the crab mornay onto the English muffin halves
Sprinkle with a little extra cayenne pepper for color. Serve & enjoy.
NOTES: Crab mornay is very versatile. Some people use it as an appetizer served with Ritz crackers. Some people dress it up by serving it in puff pastry shells. Whatever you choose to do with it, your guests will love it. You will, too.