Bowl of crab rice dressing
Image by Jon Cherry

North of Bourbon chef Lawrence Weeks’ mother makes a basic version of rice dressing during the holidays. “Hers is a super simple side dish, but I always got the biggest plate of it,” he says. Weeks’ version is updated with crab meat, creamy crab roe, and a kick of heat from the basil cream. Be sure to make the rice a day in advance. 

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Serves 4 to 6

    For the basil cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup basil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1-2 slices pickled jalapeño
  • For the crab butter:
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 4 ounces crab roe
  • For the crab rice:
  • 2 pounds bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 quart cooked Carolina Gold rice
  • 1 ounce Herbsaint liqueur
  • ½ ounce sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces blue crab meat
  • 1 tablespoon crab butter
  • ½ cup roughly chopped turnip greens
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro leaves for garnish
  • Lime wedges for serving
  1. Make the basil cream: Pour cream into a small saucepot and set over medium heat; reduce by about a third, until slightly thickened. Add zest and juice. Let cool slightly then transfer to a blender and add remaining ingredients. Starting on a low setting, blend ingredients, gradually working up to the highest speed until sauce is smooth with a slightly green hue. Set aside. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.)
  2. Make the crab butter: Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Store in airtight container.
  3. Make the rice: In a cold sauté pan, combine bacon, garlic, and onion, and place over medium-low heat, cooking until bacon is rendered and beginning to crisp, around 10 minutes. Remove all but ¼ cup of bacon sofrito from pan and reserve for another use.
  4. Add rice to sofrito in pan and increase heat to medium. Add Herbsaint and vinegar and stir, allowing alcohol and vinegar to cook off, about 2 minutes. Stir in crab, crab butter, and turnip greens and season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and stir until butter is melted and everything is well combined. Add more salt and pepper as needed.
  5. To serve: Pour basil cream into bottom of a serving bowl and spoon crab rice over top. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges.
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