This rich and decadent dish is an example of Low Country cooking at its finest. It dates itself with some of the ingredients, like the yellow food coloring, but it's okay to leave that out entirely if you wish. When made with quality crab meat and good stock, this old-fashioned concoction is hard to beat.
This recipe is from the old Robertson's Cafeteria in Charleston, South Carolina, and was originally published in The Baltimore Sun.
Flour paste is made from 1 part flour to 2 parts cold water or stock mixed together.
- Butter or nonstick spray, for sauteing
- 2 celery ribs, chopped fine
- 1 medium bell pepper, chopped fine
- 1 medium onion, chopped fine
- 6 Cups evaporated milk
- 3 Cups chicken or shrimp stock
- 2 to 3 tablespoons flour paste (see notes)
- Salt to taste
- Few drops yellow food coloring (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped pimento
- 1/4 Cup real sherry (not cooking sherry)
- 1 Pound claw crab meat
- Grated sharp cheddar cheese, as needed for garnish
- Pimento strips, for garnish
Step 1: In a pan, using butter or oil spray, saute 2 chopped celery ribs, 1 chopped bell pepper and 1 chopped onion until soft. Set aside.
Step 2: In a separate pot, combine 6 cups evaporated milk and 3 cups chicken or shrimp stock. Bring to a simmer, almost to the boiling point, stirring often.
Step 3: Add the reserved vegetables and 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour paste. (Note: flour paste is made from 1 part flour to 2 parts cold water or stock mixed together.) Cook mixture until slightly thickened.
Step 4: Add salt to taste and a few drops of yellow food coloring, if using. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped pimento. Add 1/4 cup sherry and stir well. Remove the pot from the heat and let mixture cool to set somewhat.
Step 5: Preheat oven to 325 F.
Step 6: Divide 1 pound claw crab meat as desired into individual dishes or ramekins, about 6 to 8 ounces in size. Pour milk mixture over crab. Top with grated sharp cheddar cheese and pimento strips for garnish.
Step 7: Bake until slightly bubbly and cheese is melted and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.