Emeril Lagasse

I’ve known the irrepressible Emeril Lagasse since he was executive chef at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. Despite the fame as a Food Network star, his own (short-lived) situation comedy and countless cookbooks, he remains one of the least pretentious and most revered people in the food world.

He also one of the most generous: His annual Carnivale du Vin, hosted by the Venetian this year, featured most of America’s best chefs in a fundraiser for the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, which has funded millions for kids culinary, art and education programs in the Gulf Coast.

The chef recently upped his Vegas ante with the addition of his modern sports book-meets-sports bar, Lagasse’s Stadium, at the Palazzo. His three other restaurants here including his eponymous Fish House at MGM Grand; his steak house at the Venetian, Delmonico; and Table 10 at the Palazzo.

In honor of the Super Bowl, I asked him for a special party dish to share with Vegas Seven readers and—bam!—he promptly delivered his Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip. This recipe is adapted from his Every Day’s a Party cookbook (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1999). He also has a new cookbook called 20-40-60: Fresh Food Fast (Harper Studio, 2009) whose numbers refer to preparation time. The crab dip won’t even take 30 minutes, but is sure to be a hit on Super Sunday.

Hot Jalapeño Crab Dip
Makes 8 appetizer servings

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ½ cup chopped pickled jalapeños
  • ¼ pound Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeños, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the crabmeat, garlic, jalapeños, Monterey Jack, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt and mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl. Toss gently to mix. Spoon the mixture into a medium-size shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese evenly on the top of the crabmeat mixture.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Serve with croutons (see recipe, below).

Toasted Croutons
Makes about 32 croutons

  • 1 loaf French bread (about 8 inches in diameter and 15 inches long), ends trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4- inch-thick slices
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange slices of bread on the lined baking sheet. Brush bread with half of the olive oil, then sprinkle with half the salt and half the black pepper. Turn the bread over and brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper.

Bake for about 6 minutes, then turn the baking sheet to ensure the bread toasts evenly. Bake until the croutons are lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Chosen by Max Solano, bar manager at two of Emeril’s Las Vegas restaurants, Delmonico Steakhouse and Table 10.

My go-to brew for this delicious dip is Blue Moon, a Belgian-style spiced wheat beer. The spice from the coriander combined with the sweetness and slight bitterness of the orange peel go really well with the crab. It also has the perfect body and profile to match with the cheeses and the heat of the hot sauce and jalapeños.