Mary Sloan Roby of Baltimore was looking for the recipe for the crab casserole from the old Robertson's Cafeteria in Charleston, S.C. She said it was very creamy and had cheddar cheese melted on the top.
Carol Smith of Ellicott City, Md., who said she enjoys researching recipes, thinks she has found it. It comes from an article in the Post & Courier newspaper in Charleston published in June 2006. Frank DuRoss, a manager at Robertson's, had sent in the recipe for the crab casserole from the legendary restaurant.
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 I just chose to leave that out entirely. When made with quality crab meat and good stock, this old-fashioned concoction is hard to beat.
ROBERTSON'S CAFETERIA CRAB CASSEROLE
Makes 4 servings
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
1 medium bell pepper, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
Butter or nonstick spray for sauteing
6 cups evaporated milk
3 cups chicken or shrimp stock
2 to 3 tablespoons flour paste (see note)
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
Saute celery, peppers and onions in butter or oil spray until soft. Set aside.
In a separate pot, combine evaporated milk and chicken or shrimp stock. Bring to a simmer, almost to the boiling point, stirring often. Add the reserved vegetables. Add 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.
Add salt to taste and the yellow food coloring, if using. Stir in chopped pimento. Add sherry and stir well. Remove the pot from the heat and let mixture cool to set somewhat.
Divide crabmeat as desired into individual dishes or ramekins, about 6 to 8 ounces in size. Pour milk mixture over crab. Top with sharp cheddar cheese and pimento for garnish.
Bake at 325 degrees until slightly bubbly and cheese is melted and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.