I want to introduce you to Ellie Lunsford. I had the pleasure of knowing Ellie when my children were school age. She and her husband, Bill, would pull into our small town in their huge Cadillac and make going to Grandparent’s day a party. They were to my son, Andrew, adopted grandparents. Andrew would hopeinto that car with their grandson, Rich, and off they would go to school to be followed by a lunch out at a place of their choice.
Ellie was a true lady from the south. She was from Reedville, VA, where crabbing and fishing were a big commercial industry. She exuded warmth, gentility, and hospitality. Ellie married her high school sweetheart. She moved “north” to Yankee territory after her husband, Billy, opened a fish processing plant outside Wildwood, NJ. She brought her southern ways, recipes, and her friendly southern accent with her.
Ellie had a delightful sense of humor. As she aged, she decided she would live life just the way she chose. Apparently one time Fran, her daughter-in-law, looked askance at one of those choices. Ellie told Fran, “I got my letter”. Confused Fran asked her what letter? Ellie replied, “the letter that says at my age I can do just as I please”. Now that we have reached that age, we understand the letter, and very often do as we please and explain to anyone who questions our behavior that we received our letter.
The following recipe was published in the Reedville Cookbook. A best seller in Ellie’s hometown of approximately 100 people.
Ellie’s Crab Imperial
- 1 pound of backfin crabmeat
- 1/2 tablespoon of chopped pimiento
- 1/2 tablespoon of chopped green pepper
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, plus additional 1/4 cup for topping
- black pepper to taste
- paprika for topping
Heavy Cream Sauce ingredients:
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 5 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of milk
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of drained capers
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Pick the shells from crabmeat
- Sauté pimiento and green pepper in 1 tablespoon of butter
- Make a heavy cream sauce by melting butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat and stirring in flour, milk, and salt
- Stir until mixture is smooth and thick
- Add the sautéed vegetables, 3/4 cup of mayonnaise, and remaining ingredients to the sauce. Leave out the crabmeat, mayonnaise and paprika.
- Gently fold in the crabmeat taking care not to break up the big lumps
- Spread into a shallow baking dish
- Spread the remaining mayonnaise on top
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with paprika
Special Note: Fran says she omits spreading the mayonnaise on the top of casserole.
I hope you have enjoyed meeting Ellie and her recipe for Crab Imperial as much as I have enjoyed bring her to you.
Talk soon, ❤️💕 Bernadette
31 responses to “ELLIE’S CRAB IMPERIAL – from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay”
This sounds wonderful! Nothing like fresh crab.
It is super delicious especially when Ellie would bring the crab from Reedville.
Such a great story Bernadette! That is what gives heart to a recipe, the story behind it!
I don’t know what makes me happier – the story telling or the recipe sharing
Wow! I’d just be excited to have that much crab meat in front of me! But the recipe sounds marvelous!
I know, crab meat is so expensive. But, Fran made this recently for a dinner party of 8 and she had some leftovers. It really streches.
How delightful, I love your stories!
Thanks so much Jenna. I like to story tell and I like cooking. I am trying to combine both.
I miss crab! This looks truly mouthwatering. p.s I like this blog template.
Thanks for noticing the new theme. I was forced into it. My old theme developed a bug. Grrr.
I’ve saved this crab imperial recipe. Thank you for sharing! Also, looking forward to getting my “letter” in the mail😉🌺
The letter is even better than the recipe. Have a good week.
This sounds like a very tasty combination. Love her spirit!
I usually make a crab dish around the holidays and I will keep this one in mind. You have to splurge once in awhile 🙂
Fran made it for a dinner party she invited me to. We were 8 people and she had left overs. It would be a great dish around the holidays. Thank for reading.
It sounds wonderful, I wish real crabmeat was as easy to find as it used to be. I may keep the recipe in case I becomes more available. Thanks for posting.
Reblogged this on Time Traveler on the road of Life and commented:
re-blogging so more people can enjoy.
Aren’t you the best. THANKS!
Bern, another great story and recipe. I know I’m going to make this. Crab imperial is one of Todd’s all time favorite dishes.
Elizabeth, I can guarantee you it is delicious
You can spot a southern hand on this recipe with the crem sauce. Love it!
I am reading your book. So enjoying your stories. I married into an Italian American family and lived all the different personalities. Your book is rekindling all those happy times.
Looks like a wonderful dish.
Ellie sounds like a sweet lady and her recipe sounds wonderful too! 🙂
Ellie sounds like someone you would enjoy being around and she could cook. Thank you for sharing her recipe Bernadette!
Always looking for the new recipe. What did you prepare today?
A story and a recipe on sushi are coming today. Thanks for asking.
I’m glad that Ellie got the letter as I’m sure all of that mayo makes this crab dish super moist and delicious.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great Sunday.