This dip is a popular crowd pleaser at our annual Holiday Party. The richness of the crab pairs perfectly with thin slices of fresh french bread. I served the dip in an uber cool burnt red Emile Henry Flame Top Fondue Pot I found at Sur La Table. The fondue set’s flame keeps the dip warm and spreadable throughout the evening. And it looks so much chicer than a chafing dish. Using fresh lump crab meat was crucial here – I bought the chilled canned variety sold at my local Whole Foods. Do not mistake this for the traditional canned crab you can buy off the supermarket shelf – they are entirely different. The great thing about this recipe is that it can be made earlier in the day and baked just prior to serving.
This recipe was adapted from one found in The Junior League of Birmingham’s cookbook “Tables of Content,” a treasured gift from my grandmother. My version is as follows.
Crab Dip Au Gratin
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
1 Bunch Green Onions – thinly sliced (white and some green)
1/3 Cup All-purpose Flour
1 12 oz can Evaporated Milk
1/2 Cup Whole Milk
2 Egg Yolks, lightly beaten
1 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Cayenne Pepper
1/2 TSP Ground Black Pepper
1 lb lump crab meat – shelled
8 ounces shredded Swiss Cheese
8 ounces grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Sherry
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the fresh crab meat – pick through looking for any missed pieces of shel. Place aside. Melt the butter in a large non-stick skillet and add the green onion. Saute until tender but do not brown. Remove from heat and stir in the flour. Mix the evaporated and whole milk in a separate bowl (or large measuring cup) and mix in the egg yolks until well combined. Stir the milk into the onion mixture and add the salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Cook over a medium heat for about five minutes, or until the mixture has thickened to a sauce like consistency, stirring constantly. in a large bowl combine the crab meat and sauce mixture. Do not over combine – try and maintain some of the lump texture of the crab. Gently fold in both cheeses and the sherry until just combined; spread into 9 x 13 baking dish or oven-proof serving piece (in my case the enameled fondue pot*). If making earlier in the day, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Prior to serving bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is bubbly and golden brown. Serve with hearty crackers or thin slices of french bread.
* I double this recipe to fill the large enamel fondue pot pictured and increase the baking time to 25 to 30 mins.