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Crab Bisque recipe

October 03, 2007

1/2 gallon whole milk
1 quart half-and-half
1/2 gallon crab stock or chicken stock (See cook's note)
2 bay leaves
1 cup finely chopped celery
3 sticks of butter or margarine
2 cups flour
2 pounds shredded cheddar-Jack cheese
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 tablespoon (or to taste) hot sauce
1/2 cup dehydrated parsley flakes or 3/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley
1/3 cup Old Bay
1/2 cup sweet vermouth
3 pounds picked crab meat (special grade)
Paprika, for garnish
Fresh parsley, for garnish

In a double boiler, heat the whole milk, half-and-half, crab stock and bay leaves over high heat until the mixture reaches about 190 degrees.

While that is heating, saut celery and butter over medium heat in a small frying pan, but be careful not to brown the butter. Add the flour to the butter and celery and stir constantly until smooth. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to brown this roux.

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Once the milk-and-stock mixture reaches about 190 degrees, remove the bay leaves and add the roux. Mix with a wire whisk and stir continually until soup thickens and is smooth.

Add the shredded cheese to the double boiler and stir until all the cheese is melted and smooth.

Stir in the white pepper, allspice, hot sauce, parsley and Old Bay. Then stir in the vermouth. Gently stir in the crab meat so as not to break up the lumps of meat too much.

Can serve bisque in bread bowls using round loaves of pumpernickel or sourdough, or smaller, harder dinner rolls. Cut off the top of each roll and dig out the inside bread, leaving a half inch of bread on the bottom and sides.

Pour bisque in each bowl. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of paprika and a fresh parsley sprig.

Makes 1 1/2 gallons or 24 8-ounce servings.

Cook's note: Chicken stock might be easier to find than crab base, which is used to make crab stock. To create crab stock, follow directions for how much crab base to add to hot water. Because crab base can be salty, don't add any salt to the finished bisque before tasting it.

- Courtesy of Leiters' Fine Catering; recipe by president and co-owner Dave Leiter and chef Brandon Coldsmith

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