Advocate-tested recipe

Crab Meat au Gratin

Serves 6. Recipe by chef Michael Regua Sr., of Antoine’s Restaurant, is from “New Orleans Classic Creole Recipes” by Kit Wohl (Pelican Publishing, 2014). The secret to the recipe is jumbo lump crab meat.

For the béchamel sauce:

3 tbls. unsalted butter

3 tbls. all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion

1 whole clove

1 bay leaf

Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

For the crab:

21/2 cups jumbo lump crab meat (preferably Louisiana blue crab)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 tbls. grated cheddar cheese

4 tbls. grated Romano cheese

4 tbls, grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup panko or plain bread crumbs

1. Make the béchamel sauce: In a saucepan over low heat melt the butter. Add the flour, a teaspoon at a time and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to form a light roux. Remove the roux from the heat and set aside.

2. In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, onion, clove and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low and whisk the roux into the milk mixture until it has been completely combined. Allow to simmer until the sauce will stick to the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Whisk in salt and pepper to taste.

4. Strain the sauce through a fine colander to remove the onion, clove and bay leaf.

5. Make the crab mixture: In a medium saucepan, gently fold the béchamel sauce and crab meat together using a rubber spatula. Be careful not to break up the crab meat. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide equally among 6 oven-safe ramekins or small dishes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a small bowl, mix all the cheeses with the bread crumbs and divide equally among the ramekins.

7. Bake until the tops begin to brown , about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve warm.