Crabmeat Cannelloni

Here’s a rich crabmeat-and-pasta dish that makes a good appetizer or entree. Resist the temptation to roll these things up so tight that the crabmeat can’t escape; you want to see some of it wandering around on the plate.

Can tell that this is a New Orleans recipe, not one from Italy? It’s the cheese. Italians would never put this much cheese (if any) in a seafood dish. In New Orleans, not having the cheese would be nearly unthinkable. However, Chef Goffredo Fraccaro, founder of Metairie’s La Riviera (dead in the hurricane), did think of it. He won a crabmeat cooking competition in San Francisco with crabmeat ravioli, opening the door to dishes like this.

  • 15 pasta sheets, about four inches square, or big pasta tubes
  • 1 1/2 pints whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (preferably Grana Padano)
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbs. fresh chopped basil
  • 2 oz. shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Boil the pasta sheets in salted water until cooked al dente. Drain and set aside.

2. In an oversize saucepan, boil the whipping cream and reduce by half. Be careful it doesn’t foam over.

3. Pour about two-thirds of the reduced cream into a skillet. To cream remaining in the saucepan, whisk in the Parmesan cheese and white pepper to finish the sauce. Keep warm on the side.

4. Add the garlic, salt, crushed red pepper, and crabmeat to the cream in the skillet. Simmer over low heat while agitating the pan until contents are well combined.

5. Add the basil and the shredded mozzarella and stir very lightly until mozzarella begins to melt. Remove from the heat.

6. Spoon the mixture onto the pasta sheets. Roll them into tubes about an inch in diameter. Place the tubes with the seam side down on ovenproof dishes. Spoon about two tablespoons of sauce over each individual cannelloni.

6. Bake the cannelloni in the oven until the sauce begins to bubble and the pasta browns lightly around the edges. Serve very hot.

Serves twelve appetizers or six main courses.

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