She-Crab Soup with Benne Seed Biscuits
Makes 8 Servings
In Lowcountry, female crabs are prized for this famous soup because they contribute a potent but delicate flavor. Following tradition, she-crab soup should be prepared using female crabs exclusively, with their roe added for even more flavor.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
1 pound lump crab meat, picked
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups crab roe or the yolks of 4 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 dozen Benne Seed Biscuits (see recipe)
>Melt butter in a heavy 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. >In a saucepan, heat milk, but do not boil. >When butter is hot, whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook roux 2-3 minutes, do not brown. >Slowly stir in hot milk, whisking well. Cook over medium low heat until hot,stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. >Pour cream into a large skillet. Bring to boil, whisking occasionally, then reduce heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes until cream has thickened and reduced by [1/4]. >Pour cream into hot mixture. Mix well, then stir in crab meat. >Cook 30 minutes to allow the flavor to develop, stirring occasionally. >Season with sherry and salt. >Add crab roe. Ladle into serving bowls. Garnish with parsley and a generous sprinkle of cayenne.
The slaves brought benne seeds [sesame seeds] to the New World with them from Africa and they have been a staple in Southern cookery ever since.
1 cup benne seeds [sesame seeds]
3 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lard
2/3 cup milk
>Place the benne seeds in a shallow pan in a preheated, 425 degree oven. After 5 minutes, check on the benne seeds. They should be the color of butterscotch and should have a delicious toasted smell. If not, shake the pan and return to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes longer, but watch carefully. They burn easily.
>Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the lard and work the mixture with a pastry blender or your fingertips until it has the texture of cornmeal. Add the milk and mix well. Mix in the toasted benne seeds.
>Place the dough on a floured surface, knead for a few seconds, and shape into a ball. >Roll the dough out until it is about the thickness of a nickel. Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds and lay them on an ungreased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. >Bake for about 12 minutes, until lightly browned. >Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and serve hot.
Chef’s Tip: You may store the cooked biscuits in an airtight tin or jar and reheat them before serving.