There are some things you cook because you’re hungry, it’s easy, and you need to get food on the table. I love those type of recipes- easy tacos, spaghetti, or a simple sandwich with chips or Mac and cheese. However, there are some times when you want to serve a showstopper, an amazing dish that shows people “they know their way around a kitchen.” My recipe for Crab Louis Salad with Grilled Romaine and Horseradish Crema Gel is one of those recipes. It’s beautiful, it’s decadent, and it is a flavor bonanza, especially on a hot summer night. And the best part, this recipe is not really that hard, it just takes some planning. So, strap on, we’re going to create a “blow the mother-in-law away” dish that will have everyone thinking you went to culinary school!
You’ll need a few supplies and different ingredients
To do this dish, you’ll need a few things that most kitchens don’t have in stock. If you’re a baker, good. You’ll need a non-stick baking mat (I use Silpat brand)and a 3″x2″ food form, or biscuit cutter. Depending on how many servings you’ll be making, you may need 2 or 3 baking mats. I think you could use wax paper for this (we’re not cooking things, just firming them in the fridge) but I haven’t tested that out. You’ll also need unflavored gelatin. For this ingredient, go to the aisle of the grocery store and look where they have all the Jello boxes. It’s usually on the bottom shelf, and you may have to dust off a box. Not a big seller, but, very useful to have! For the horseradish, you can use prepared horseradish. I also like to get fresh horseradish root and grate it as a garnish and in the gel for additional flavor and texture, but if you can’t find it, don’t worry about it.
About Crab Louie Salads
If you look around, there are many recipes going back years and years for a “Crab Louie Salad. Generally, they involve some type of dressing to coat the crab, lettuce, and boiled eggs. I never really thought boiled eggs went with this dish, so I definitely just used the basic recipe as inspiration and struck out on my own with this version. Many versions call for Dungeness crab meat, but I’m from the South and Blue Crab meat is what we have. Because this is a special occasion dish, I’m using Jumbo Lump Crab meat. You can also use lump crab meat. The flavor will be the same but there is something quite decadent in using jumbo lump meat. A note of caution, when you are tossing the crab meat in the dressing, be very, very gentle. Fold, rather than stir. You’re paying a premium for those beautiful lumps of crab, so don’t break them up.
Crab Louis dressing also has a ton of variations out there. I’ve seen them compared to Russian dressing, but I think they really need a remoulade dressing, so that’s what I’ve used. My Lucky 7 seasoning goes great with seafood, so there’s a bit of that in the “remoulade-ish” recipe. Keep a bit of the Lucky 7 around to sprinkle over the whole dish (very lightly.). It seemed to really tie everything together when I was making this. There’s also made a super-quick chive vinaigrette for a change in flavor in the recipe. I drizzled a bit over the tomatoes and along the plate, and it’s a quite nice fun flavor change.
To get to showstopper status, we’re going to make this dish in layers. A layer of thinly sliced avocados. Then, a layer of horseradish cream gel. Follow that with the jumbo lump crabmeat tossed in the dressing, and garnishes. You can make the cream gel the day before on a sheet pan with a non stick mat or a piece of wax paper. Wrap the sheet pan in clear-wrap, then refrigerate. Use the food ring to cut out circles of the Crema gel, then put it in the center of your plate. At the bottom, put a double layer of the avocado slices, and slightly press them down. Gently using a couple of thin spatulas, pick up the ring of crema gel and place over the avocado. Then, just fill up the ring with crab meat! Easy peasy! Garnish and serve to mad acclaim over your chef skills!
What to serve after
Here’s a serious problem. You just made your mother-in-law with your amazing dish, but that’s just an appetizer. What can you do to follow up that showstopper? If you want to stay in the seafood theme, a frutti-di-mare pasta would be delish. But, might I suggest a reverse-seared steak and Poblano Creamed Corn. Time it right, and you’ll put the steaks on well before dinner, have a cocktail and chat, then blow everyone away with your appetizer. Meekly excuse yourself to clear the dishes, turn the skillet with the corn back on to heat up (prepared earlier,) go fire up the steak on the hot side of the grill or torch it for amazing char. Guess what, didn’t even break a sweat. Drop mike. smirk at Mother-in-law while she has to thank you for an amazing dinner.
Now, get out there and let everyone know you’re a badass! Grill on!Print