Crab Gratin: An inspired versatility

My husband and I had Crab Gratin for dinner last night, and we both fell in love with it. The texture is creamy, the spices a surprise and a delight. I love the versatility of this recipe. You can use Crab Gratin as a main course, a first course, a brunch dish, or a light lunch. The dish has a myriad usefulness. [RuthAnn]

Dale’s  World:

Working together as a team

Crab Gratin

This piquant little dish can serve you in several ways. It makes a good main course, along with a couple of side dishes. It makes a not-too-filling lunch with a small green salad and a loaf of French bread. Pair it with fruit for a brunch, and if you bake it in individual ramekins, it makes a delightful out of the ordinary first course for dinner. You can use any kind of crab you like. I experimented with canned crab, fresh king crab and the imitation crab meat. For the money spent, I prefer the imitation crab.

You will need:

2 Tbs. Minced Parsley                            ¼ cup of Flour

¼ cup minced onion                                2 cups of Milk

¼ cup minced Red Bell Pepper              Salt

¼ cup minced Green Bell Pepper          1 Tbs. Lemon Juice

¼ cup of minced Celery                          2 tsp. Hot Pepper Sauce

¾ to 1 lb. of Crab Meat                           Nutmeg

½ cup of Bread Crumbs                          ½ tsp. White Pepper

¼ cup of Butter                                       ½ tsp. Garlic Powder

                                        ½  tsp. of Ground Sage



1. Mince the parsley, onion, bell peppers and celery. To make this  a very refined dish, carefully mince the vegetables in cubes that are the width of the bell pepper meat—approximately 1/8 of an inch. In a professional kitchen we call this “brunoise.” The parsley is for the garnish.

2. If you don’t have bread crumbs in your freezer, make some real  fast in your food processor. One way RuthAnn likes to do this is to toast three or four slices of bread, then pulse the toast in the food processor.

3. If you are using canned crab, drain it. If you are using crab legs or the imitation crab, chop or tear it.


1. Make a Béchamel sauce: Melt ¼ cup of butter in a medium sized sauce pan.  Add the ¼ cup of flour and cook for 1to 2 minutes. Don’t let it brown. Add the 2 cups of milk. Stir until it thickens. Season the sauce with 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon of both white pepper and garlic powder and a pinch of nutmeg. Now it is a Béchamel.

2. Add the lemon juice,  sage. hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, or whatever brand you have). Now it is no longer a Béchamel!

3. Stir in the bell peppers, celery, onions and bread crumbs.

4. Fold in the crab meat. The mixture needs to hold together but not stand up in a ball. Make any kind of adjustments with more milk or more bread crumbs.

Crab Gratin as a Main Dish

5. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings  to make it your own.

6. Pour it into a baking dish or individual ramekins, and sprinkle a few more bread crumbs on top.

7. Bake in a 400 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the bread crumbs are browned and the gratin bubbly.

8. Sprinkle the parsley on top.

Crab Gratin

Food for Thought:

Versatility as a Virtue

As I was perusing my fabulous new dictionary on the subject of versatility, I discovered one of the definitions included a quote from Bon Appetit about a “versatile filling for tacos, tostados, or burritos.” Was it coincidence that the day before I had created a filling of black beans, Rotel tomatoes and cumin and thought how versatile it could be? Certainly it was serendipitous

Is versatility a character quality? Does God want his children to be versatile? I think so— not in the sense of my dictionary’s first definition: being “inconstant or fickle.” but certainly in the sense of the second definition: “showing facility or aptitude in varied subjects.”

My fabulous dictionary gives these quotes to help the reader better understand the meaning of versatility.

C.C. Felton writes of “The splendid versatility of poetical genius . . . displayed by Goethe.”

Sir Walter Scott describes one of his characters as “versatile and free from prejudice of every kind.”

Paul writes about Mark and Onesimus being useful to him for service (Philemon 1:11). The implication is that they were useful in more than one way—versatile.

God wants us to cultivate versatility in knowledge and love, to have a wide aptitude, to be teachable and useful.

Many of us have heard talk about the “scandal”of the evangelical mind. Yes, we live by faith, but that doesn’t mean we stop using our minds. The more intelligent, the more knowledgeable we are—the more we understand of God’s world, human nature, the arts, literature, and history—the more useful we will be for His service. “Add to your faith goodness and to your goodness knowledge” (II Peter1:5 ).

Last Sunday our church voted to call a certain candidate to be our new Senior pastor. One thing that encouraged me about him was the fact that he’d studied for years, not only in America, but also in Scotland, Great Britain and Denmark. And he’s only 40 years old. Renaissance men and women—that’s what we need.

One way to think of what God means when He encourages us to increase in love is to be versatile in our attitudes toward others. For example, an increasing number of downtown jaywalkers may tempt us to yell angrily at the culprits. But if we remember the principle of versatility, it will lead us to consider other options also:  1. honking gently at the jay-walkers  to warn them of their danger, 2. avoiding the temptation to yell angrily by taking another route, or 3. praying God’s blessing on the jay-walker’s day and future. How many souls might we effect in this last way?

In Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto, a band of terrorists holds a group of distinguished personages hostage for 4 ½ months. During that time they become acquainted with each other and learn that everyone, even the terrorists, are human beings with gifts, passions and needs, just like themselves. They grow to love each other as they grow in knowledge of each other.

“Paul prayed that his church’s love would ” abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” That (they) “may approve things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:11).

In the book Bel Canto Gen Watanabe is a translator whose versatility is a help to all. In our home, the fact that my husband is not only a doctor but can also fix practically anything is a blessing. I have a friend who is a professional singer, an interior decorator, an event planner and an excellent receptionist and administrator as well. She is a useful, winsome person in the service of Christ.

When we cook up a Crab Gratin, let’s remember Versatility. Dale’s Crab Gratin started it all. Try it! you will like it in a myriad of ways.

That Ultimate Versatility: Flowers

This entry was posted in Devotionals, First Steps in Gourmet Cooking, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Crab Gratin: An inspired versatility

  1. Diane Rutledge Hazel says:

    Literature and fancy food — the perfect pairing. I just finished “Bel Canto” and there are some interesting kitchen scenes in that hostage situation……Makes me think Ann Patchett is a cook herself.

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