This creamy and decadent baked seafood dish is the perfect meal for a dreary, rainy night

"My favorite way to eat this is with a fork in one hand and a hunk of French bread in the other"

By Bibi Hutchings


Published August 17, 2023 1:30PM (EDT)

Baked Shrimp & Crab (Getty Images/zepp1969)
Baked Shrimp & Crab (Getty Images/zepp1969)

In "Bibi's Gulf Coast Kitchen," columnist Bibi Hutchings takes you on a culinary journey across the coastal south. Come for the great food writing, stay for the delicious recipes.

Delicate, rich crab meat is the shining star in this meal.

The shrimp very much play a supporting role  or no role at all, if you choose to omit them. It is a brilliant recipe either way and will become a favorite for entertaining, even if you cut the recipe down to accommodate an intimate party for two. 

Although this is a simple dish, it is elegant and decadent. There is something impressive about it, which is surprising considering once your seafood is prepped, it requires very little effort. The flavors are so harmonious that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it so special (other than the crab meat), but I can't help but think it might be the luscious, expertly seasoned béchamel.

The béchamel — the glorious, other-worldly white sauce in this recipe — is seasoned with a whisper of white pepper, nutmeg and a few other ingredients, all rounding out to complement this dish impeccably.

It is a simple sauce to make, but I was taught to do a few things in just this way: First, the butter should be put into your saucepan cold, straight from the refrigerator and heated on low. Second, don't whisk in your flour until the butter is just starting to brown. Third, the cream, milk, or half and half, should be warmed before adding it next. And lastly, do not overcook it. Take it off the heat as soon as it is thick and smooth.          

My favorite way to eat this is with a fork in one hand and a hunk of French bread in the other. Serve a salad as its own course beforehand, so that once this main makes it to the table, you can give it your full attention through to the last bite. Some have served this over rice, but I believe that is a mistake. The flavors are too delicate and are drowned out by the rice. Trust me, bread is the way to go. 

I learned early that when preparing and serving crab meat, the goal is to not overpower it. Less is always more and this recipe showcases it like few others. Each ingredient pulls its weight, adding exactly what is needed to enhance without being too bold or brazen. 

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Everything about this recipe says, light touch: From the subtlety of the seasonings to the rich, creamy, lightly textured mouthfeel, you find yourself slowing down and savoring every bite.

I'd love to tell you that when I made this for supper last night, I set the table, lit a few candles and created the kind of atmosphere I believe this meal deserves, but my day ended later than usual and those details fell away. Instead, this scrumptious dinner romanced me in an entirely different way. Comfortable and piled up on the couch, it was like having champagne in your pajamas.

Not the way I envisioned the evening, but amazing nonetheless. 

When you are ready for a fine, fine meal: This is it. Choose it for a celebration dinner or for a cozy night in. It is a splurge for your taste buds, no matter the occasion.           

Creamy Crab & Shrimp 
8 to 10 servings
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes


8 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cup half and half, warmed

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg   

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, like Tabasco

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Salt to taste (start with about 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 cup white wine

1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, dried and chopped

8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced

3 green onions, thinly sliced, separate the white parts from the green   

3 to 4 tablespoons capers 

1 pound jumbo lump or lump crab meat, thoroughly picked for shell — OR — 1/2 pound crab meat and 1/2 pound shrimp. If using shrimp, they should be pre-cooked, peeled and deveined (They should also only be mostly cooked or slightly underdone, as they will cook more in the oven)

1/3 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 

French bread or baguette



  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Melt butter over low heat. When butter is fully melted and starting to sizzle, use a whisk to blend in flour.

  3. Whisk in half and half, salt, nutmeg, white pepper and hot sauce. 

  4. Cook low while whisking until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat once it is thickened so as not to overcook.

  5. Once cool enough to taste, stir in the wine and adjust seasonings.  

  6. Sauté mushrooms until softened in a little butter or oil. Toss in white parts of green onions near the end, so they are partially cooked. 

  7. Drain off liquid and use a paper towel to remove excess.

  8. Butter a large casserole dish and arrange mushrooms, onions and artichokes on bottom. 

  9. Top with crab meat and shrimp, if using.

  10. Sprinkle capers on top of seafood.

  11. Pour sauce over and bake 20 minutes.

  12. Remove from oven and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and return to the oven another 5 to 10 min.

  13. Serve with bread.

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Cook's Notes

-The white sauce: I generally use equal parts heavy cream and almond milk because I have them on hand, but traditional half and half is fine.

-Add the nutmeg and white pepper in small amounts and all them to fully incorporate and stand before adding more.

-The seafood: I make this just as often without shrimp as I do with them. It is wonderful either way. The crab meat is the star of this recipe, so feel free to omit the shrimp and double the crab meat.

By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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