This is one of the most popular appetizers at the venerable French Quarter restaurant Galatoire's. It's a personal favorite of mine as well, and one that I simply can't resist getting whenever I dine there ('cause ... well, lump crabmeat is so damned good, and it's particularly good there, and this is a light and lovely way to dress it; it's simple, and full of flavor). I'll stop babbling now. Get the best lump white crabmeat you can afford. Your guests will love you for it. While we're on the subject, BE CAREFUL when you're folding the crabmeat into the other ingredients. The reason you just spent a fortune on this stuff is the big, beautiful lumps, so don't break them up! I see people shredding gorgeous lump crabmeat and I just wanna smack 'em.

In most restaurants this dish is called "Crabmeat Ravigote", but Galatoire's -- accustomed to doing things in their own way -- already have a different dish by that name, so they call their ravigote "Crabmeat Maison". Confused? Me too. Don't worry about it. Just eat it.

To make the Maison dressing, combine vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil, a little at a time, to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix together mayonnaise, Maison dressing, green onions, capers and parsley. Gently fold in the crabmeat, making sure you don't break up any of the lumps -- the key to making this dish truly wonderful).

Divide into six equal portions and serve on a bed of butter lettuce, with two slices of tomato and a squeeze from a wedge of lemon just before serving.

YIELD: 6 servings


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Chuck Taggart   email chuck (at) gumbopages (dot) com