The delicate white flesh of a crab has a distinct sweetness followed by a faintly bitter note, while the brown meat in the body has a richer, savoury flavour. Whether bought whole, dressed or simply as a potted meat, crab is a versatile ingredient that can be used in starters and salads alike; its unique aromas work perfectly in this decadent starter – a creamy crab gratin.
Serves 4 as a starter
2 tbsp butter
½ white onion, peeled and finely chopped
20ml cream sherry
4 tbsp plain flour
200g day-old white bread, with crust removed
40g Parmsean, grated
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp mild olive oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
100g mixed brown and white crabmeat
200g white crabmeat
60g vintage Cheddar grated
Extra flat-leaf parsley, to serve
1. Fry the onion in the butter, over a low to medium heat, until it has become translucent. Add the sherry and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the flour, and cook for a few minutes. Then gradually add the milk, stirring frequently, to make a roux. Bring to the boil, and simmer for a few minutes until the roux has become smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
2. Tear up the bread, place in a food processor and pulsed into crumbs (it’s OK to leave some larger pieces). Tip into a bowl, then add the grated Parmesan, melted butter, olive oil and parsley.
3. Stir the crabmeat and Cheddar into the roux, then season to taste. Divide the mixture among four ovenproof ramekins or crab shells. Top with the breadcrumb mixture, then place in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top has turned golden. Garnish with parsley and serve with rocket or other salad leaves.
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