Hot Shrimp and Crab Dip

Seafood dips at cocktail parties have always been popular in the coastal Southern states. The only problem is that guests tend to overindulge when a dip such as this one is particularly enticing and served hot in a dramatic chafing dish. The evaporated milk does give the dip a smooth richness, and do feel free to use a little more sherry if you love the flavor of it with seafood as much as I do. Much less expensive (and sweeter) claw crabmeat can be substituted for the lump, as folks in Louisiana and Florida are prone to do, but be warned that this type must be picked over very carefully for shells and cartilage.

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, plus 1 tablespoon
  • ¼ pound fresh mushrooms, stems trimmed and caps finely chopped
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons mild paprika
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • ½ pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • ½ pound shelled cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Method

In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over moderate heat, add the mushrooms, and stir until tender, about five minutes. Remove pan from the heat.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, melt the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat, then add the flour and whisk till well blended. Gradually add the regular milk and evaporated milk, whisking constantly till the mixture is thickened and smooth. Add the paprika, pepper, and salt and whisk till well blended.

Remove pan from the heat, add the sherry, Worcestershire, and cayenne, and stir well. Fold in the crabmeat, shrimp, and mushrooms, mixing gently but well. Add the parsley, stir till well blended, and heat gently over low heat. Transfer the dip to a small chafing dish and serve hot with Melba toast rounds.