Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crab Stuffed Shells with Bechamel

It has been quite some time since my last post!  I have been busy with work and was visiting my best friend in Charleston (hey, Hillary!) last weekend, so I haven't had much time to get in the kitchen and cook.  Being at the beach had me in the mood for some seafood, so I whipped up some crab stuffed shells shortly after coming home!  Here's how to make them:

What you'll need:

12 oz. box jumbo shells
1 lb. crab meat (I used a combination of lump and claw)
15 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese, divided
2 lemons, zest and juice
1 egg
2-3 garlic cloves, grated
1/2 bunch of chives, sliced, reserve a little for garnish
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, reserve a little for garnish
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp old bay
A few grates of fresh nutmeg

For the Bechamel:

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 quart whole milk
1 tsp salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
A few grates of fresh nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl combine the crab, ricotta, cream cheese, 1 cup of Parmesan, lemon juice and zest, chives, parsley, salt, pepper, old bay and nutmeg.  Mix with your hands until just combined.  You don't want to break up the pieces of crab.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

Drop the shells in the boiling water.  Cook for about 8 minutes.  Drain and place back in the pot with ice.  Cover with water, let sit while you make the bechamel.  When the shells are cool, drain again.

In a pot, bring the milk up to just barely a simmer.  Don't boil it.  In another pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  When the butter is melted and sizzling add the flour.  Whisk until there are no lumps.  Cook until the flour is a light golden color.  When it is, slowly add the hot milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly.  When all of the milk is incorporated, turn the heat to low and let simmer until thickened.  Stir often.  It should take about 10-15 minutes to thicken.  Turn off the heat and add the salt, crushed red pepper flakes and nutmeg.  Add salt to your liking.

Using a spoon or your hands, fill each shell with about a tablespoon of the crab filling.  Place in a baking dish.  You should have just enough filling for all of the shells.  

Pour the bechamel over top of the shells.  Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan cheese.  

Bake for about 30 minutes until brown and bubbly.  Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with the rest of the parsley and chives.

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