If you want to be the person who made the most memorable dish at your next gathering, this recipe will do it. Crab Mornay graces the menus of some of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans. This hors d’oeuvres version is authentic and easy to follow with just the right amount of epicurean flair.
I am a New Orleans native, and I love sauces! They enhance flavors, add texture and moisture, and are often the piece de resistance. They may seem intimidating, but as you will see, they are quite simple.
In French Cuisine, five sauces are the origin of all others appropriately named Mother Sauces: Bechamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato. By adding one or two ingredients, they become Daughter Sauces. In this recipe, we are adding cheese, thus transform a Bechamel into a Mornay Sauce.
The rich and creamy texture of the Mornay is a decadent complement to the delicate crab meat.
The spice of the Cayenne mixed with the sweetness of the sherry adds a nice balance.
Equipment Needed: Heavy medium-size saucepan, Cutting board, Chopping knife, Sieve, Chafing dish
- 1 small bunch green onion, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped, plus a half teaspoon for garnish
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1-pint half-and-half cream, at room temperature
- ½ pound Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated (or live on the edge and combine them)
- 1 Tablespoon dry sherry (I like Tio Pepe Fino)
- 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- Pinch* of Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
- Pinch* of white pepper
- Pinch* of whole nutmeg seed, finely grated
- 1-pound fresh claw or lump crab meat (imitation is sacrilegious!)
- Toasted baguette slices and buttery crackers
*If you are wondering what a “pinch” is, my definition is 1/16 of a teaspoon
Rinse the crabmeat in the sieve and set it aside to drain. Remove any shells.
In a heavy pot over medium heat, sauté the green onion and parsley in the butter for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the flour gradually, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Adjust the heat to simmer and add the half and half and cheese, stirring until the cheese is thoroughly blended. Low heat is key, so the cheese doesn’t become grainy.
Add the sherry, Cayenne, Old Bay, white pepper, nutmeg and gently fold in the crabmeat. Pour the dip into a chafing dish or fondue pot and garnish with minced parsley.
Serve warm with toasted baguette slices, buttery crackers, and a glass of your favorite bubbles. Domaine Chandon Mount Veeder Vintage Brut is a great choice.