Crabmeat St. Francis (Original Recipe)
This was one of the best and most popular dishes created by Chef Warren Leruth at his spectacular restaurant. He told me once that the thing he missed most about not having LeRuth’s open anymore was that he couldn’t grab and eat an order of this dish at moment’s notice.
Crabmeat St. Francis is also special in that it’s one of the few regular menu items from LeRuth’s for which the chef ever published the recipe. As was true in much of Leruth’s cooking, this recipe uses ingredients and techniques generally left behind by today’s gourmet chefs. Despite that, this is a dish that knows few peers.
For a long time (and still) the recipe on this website for Crabmeat St. Francis was a reworked version composed by the late Lee Leruth, Warren’s son and also a chef. Larry Leruth–also Warren’s son and a chef says that this is the original recipe, as it was done in the restaurant. Here it is.
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 inner ribs celery, bottom 2 inches only, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves (dried)
- 1/4 tsp. celery seed
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- Pinch cayenne
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. Accent
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 3 Tbs. flour
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 3 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. spicy paprika
- 1 lb. lump crabmeat
- 3 Tbs. butter, melted
1. Heat the butter in a saucepan until it bubbles. Add all the sauce ingredients except the milk and flour, and sauté until the vegetables are well browned and sticking a little bit to the pan. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
2. After 15 minutes, add the evaporated milk and 3/4 cup of water to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring lightly.
3. While the boil is coming up, whisk the flour into 3 oz. of water. After the pan comes to a boil, stir the flour-water mixture slowly into the other ingredients. Simmer for three minutes, until the sauce is thick.
4. Spoon the sauce into a pan and refrigerate until it thickens, or overnight.
5. To complete the dish, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and paprika.
6. Divide the crabmeat among four to six scallop shells or small au gratin dishes. Top with about 1/4 cup of the chilled sauce. Sprinkle with a heaping Tbs. of the bread crumb mixture. Bake at 425 degrees until the crumbs brown and the sides of the dish begin to bubble–20-25 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and top with 1 tsp. melted butter. Serve very hot.
Serves four to six.