Scottish settlers brought their bisques and chowders to colonial America and the blue crab which is plentiful along the Carolina coast was the perfect ingredient for these dishes. The name “she-crab” relates to the addition of crab roe as a garnish to the dish which according lore was created by the butler to the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, at his employer’s request to “dress-up” the crab bisque at a dinner for visiting President William Howard Taft circa 1909.
Melt butter in a stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and bay leaf, sweat down for 2 minutes until translucent. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it dissolves. Whisk in the stock, stirring constantly until smooth and free of lumps. Gradually pour in the milk, cream, and paprika; continue to stir until incorporated. Add half the crab meat and roe. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes until thick and heated through.
To serve, divide a tablespoon of sherry among 4 bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls, spooning the remaining crab meat and roe in the center of each. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve with crusty French bread.
White Crab Stock:
Pour water in a large stockpot and place over low-medium flame. Add the vegetables and bouquet garni; cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to become tender. Add the lemon juice, crab boil seasoning, peppercorns, wine and salt. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring to mingle flavors.
Carefully put the crabs in the pot and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The crab shells will be bright orange when done. Remove and shell the crabs. Strain the stock to discard the vegetable solids, reserving the crab meat and stock. Yield: 8 cups.
Recipe by or based on recipe by: Tyler Florence Recipe image by: atlantamagazinecom Recipe video by: