This post is about the main dish that was prepared last week for our 4 course wine paired dinner for April. Crab Stuffed Shrimp with Classic Mornay Sauce is a dish that I started making when I was a young chef in Iowa of all places. Every Friday night we flew in fresh seafood like shrimp and lobsters right off the docs on the east and west coasts. I have stuffed thousands of shrimp. I wanted to share this dish from my past with the evaluation team for this dinner. It looks elegant and has lots of components that I thought would pair well with a variety of wines. This dish is really easy to prepare but does take a little time. The Classic Mornay Sauce can be made a few days ahead of time and reheated. You can purchase Peeled and Deveined Shrimp so that you don’t have to do this step and the crab stuffing is really easy to make. The directions might seem overwhelming but trust me this isn’t hard!
Crab-Stuffed Shrimp with Mornay Sauce
- 2 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
- 2 oz grated Gruyere cheese
In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the ﬂour (this is called a roux, pronounced “rew”). Cook until the roux is a pale yellow and is starting get a little frothy. Stir the roux constantly for 1 – 2 minutes. Do not allow the roux to brown. Slowly whisk in the warmed milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is thickened and comes to a boil. This should take 2 – 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 2 -3 minutes. Now you have created a Bechamel Sauce!
Stir in the cheese and whisk until it is melted. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little more milk.
The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. To reheat the sauce, put it in a pan on low heat untill it gets warm or put in the microwave on medium heat for a few minutes.
- 24 peeled and deveined shrimp, tails on.
- 8 oz pasteurized crab meat
- 1 tsp seafood seasoning
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp dry mustard
- 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp prepared mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp melted butter
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- 1/4 – 1/3 cups finely crushed crackers or panko
Start with the shrimp. If you did not purchase prepared shrimps, carefully remove the shell, vein, and guts. Hold the shrimp so that the tail is facing up, and carefully slice (or “butterfly”) the shrimp one inch from the bottom edge to the tail. This will form a pocket for the stuffing. You may want to rinse out the shrimp under cool water to ensure that it contains nothing but the tasty flesh. Pat dry with a paper towel.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the other ingredients except the crab meat and crushed crackers.
In a separate bowl, carefully pick through the meat to remove any pieces of shell. Then gently squeeze the meat to remove some of the juices. Combine the meat with the wet ingredients and mix together. Gently fold in the crushed crackers.
Form this mixture into small ovals that will fill the shrimp. Stuff the crab meat mixture into the shrimp, letting the tails curl over the stuffing pocket.
Place the stuffed shrimp on a greased 9×12″ baking pan, allowing the shrimp tails to rest against the edge of the pan or other shrimp for support.
Place pan in 350°F oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. The stuffing should be firm to the touch and have an internal temperature of 165°F.
Arrange the shrimp on a serving platter and gently cover the stuffed sections with the Mornay sauce. Try to avoid getting sauce on the tails.
Serve with vegetables, or over mashed potatoes or rice.
Mornay Sauce is a derivative of Bechamel Sauce and is created by adding cheese to the Bechamel. I find the history of food fascinating! Here is a little of the history of this sauce that I found on Whats Cooking In America (www.whatscookinginamerica.net) I hope you find this equally fascinating!
Béchamel Sauce (bay-shah-mel) – As the housewife in the 17th Century did not have the luxury of modern refrigeration, they were wary of using milk in their recipes. Peddlers were known to sell watered down or rancid produce. Basically, only the rich or royalty could use milk in their sauces.
In France, it is one of the four basic sauces called “meres” or “mother sauces” from which all other sauces derive. It is also know as “white sauce.” It is a smooth, white sauce made from a roux made with flour, boiled milk, and butter. It is usually served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables. It forms the basis of many other sauces.
History: There are four theories on the origin of Béchamel Sauce:
The Italian version of who created this sauce is that it was created in the 14th century and was introduced by the Italian chefs of Catherine de Medici (1519-1589), the Italian-born Queen of France. In 1533, as part of an Italian-French dynastic alliance, Catherine was married to Henri, Duke of Orleans (the future King Henri II of France. It is because of the Italian cooks and pastry makers who followed her to France that the French came to know the taste of Italian cooking that they introduced to the French court. Antonin Carème(1784-1833), celebrated chef and author, wrote in 1822: “The cooks of the second half of the 1700’s came to know the taste of Italian cooking that Catherine de’Medici introduced to the French court.”
Béchamel Sauce was invented by Duke Philippe De Mornay (1549-1623), Governor of Saumur, and Lord of the Plessis Marly in the 1600s. Béchamel Sauce is a variation of the basic white sauce of Mornay. He is also credited with being the creator of Mornay Sauce, Sauce Chasseur, Sauce Lyonnaise, and Sauce Porto.
Marquis Louis de Béchamel (1603–1703), a 17th century financier who held the honorary post of chief steward of King Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) household, is also said to have invented Béchamel Sauce when trying to come up with a new way of serving and eating dried cod. There are no historical records to verify that he was a gourmet, a cook, or the inventor of Béchamel Sauce. The 17th century Duke d’Escars supposedly is credited with stating: “That fellow Béchameil has all the luck! I was serving breast of chicken a la crème more than 20 years before he was born, but I have never had the chance of giving my name to even the most modest sauce.”
It is more likely that Chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne (1615-1678) created Béchamel Sauce. He was a court chef during King Louis XIV’s (1643-1715) reign, during the same time that Béchamel was there. He is often cited as being the founder of haute cuisine (which would define classic French cuisine). La Varenne wrote Le Cuisinier Francois (The True French Cook), which included Béchamel Sauce. It is thought that he dedicated it to Béchamel as a compliment. La Varenne recipes used roux made from flour and butter (or other animal fat) instead of using bread as a thickener for sauces.
Come back tomorrow for the finale of this month’s 4-course wine pairing dinner, the dessert!