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T. Pittari's Crab Bisque


Lost Restaurants of New Orleans" by Peggy Scott Laborde and Tom Fitzmorris includes this unusual crab bisque from T. Pittari's. Fitzmorris writes that he has rarely encountered anything that compares with this bisque, which is not the usual creamy version but a brown-roux soup made with claw crabmeat.

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  • Makes 6 to 8 first courses or 4 entree courses
  • 4 pounds crab claws
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 gallon cold water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • Crab boulettes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 inches stale po-boy bread, cubed, with crumbs
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Leaves of 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Pick meat off crab claws; reserve shells. Divide crabmeat into 2 equal portions.



Step 1

Put shells into food processor and grind 10 seconds. Scrape into a saucepan with bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. After 45 minutes, strain into a clean large saucepan. Reserve 1/2 cup for boulettes. Bring remaining stock to a simmer.

In a saucepan, make a roux, stirring constantly, with flour and vegetable oil. When it's a medium-dark, old-penny color, remove pan from heat and add onions, bell pepper, garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring until vegetables soften.

Stir in tomato sauce, salt, cayenne and about 1/2 cup crab stock. Stir until crab stock disappears.

Add roux mixture to the simmering crab stock. Whisk until blended. Cover pan and keep on lowest heat setting.

Make boulettes: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons butter until bubbling. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic; cook until vegetables soften. Stir in Worcestershire, peppers, salt, thyme and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, until ingredients are combined.

Wet bread cubes with reserved crab stock. Add them and half reserved crabmeat to the pan. Stir until well-mixed and the mixture looks noticeably drier. Lower heat and cool 5 minutes.

Stir green onions and parsley into crabmeat mixture. With a round soup spoon, scoop balls of the crabmeat mixture about 1 inch in diameter. Roll gently with hands to make them uniform.

Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat until it bubbles. Add crab balls, a few at a time, and roll them around until browned all over. (Or bake about 15 minutes in a 375-degree oven.)

Check seasoning of the crab bisque and add salt, pepper or Tabasco to taste. Add reserved crabmeat. Let it simmer 1 or 2 more minutes, then ladle bisque into bowls or cups. Drop 1 or 2 crab boulettes into each bowl at the table.


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