The Van Cleave Special | Recipe

The following was taken from the Biloxi Seafood Cookbook, written and edited by Julian Brunt.  The book is available from the Biloxi Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum or by calling 228-388-2025.


Life History of the Blue Crab – Source: NOAA Photo Library, via Wikicommons


The Van Cleave Special was invented in the 1940s at Rosetti’s Restaurant, once located in Point Cadet, Biloxi.  It is a crabmeat po-boy with the addition of American cheese (the exact recipe is not known), and is in fact another variant of the ever popular crab cake.  The name seems to have been taken from a man who ordered a crabmeat po-boy, but asked that cheese be added, his nickname was Van Cleave, and so the name stuck to the po-boy he requested.  The restaurant was later sold and became the Ole Biloxi Schooner Restaurant, which was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, but reopened on Howard Avenue under the same name.  The Schooner still serves a very good crabmeat po-boy.

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup green bell pepper

1 pound crabmeat

1 egg or equal amount mayo (6 tablespoons)

Salt and pepper to taste

A pinch of cayenne

American cheese or another cheese of your choice

French bread or po-boy loaf

Saute onion and bell peppers, seasoning as you go, until starting to caramelize.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, then add 1/3 cup bread crumbs, the mayo or egg (both if you want to add some richness) and the crab.  Season again to your taste.  Mix carefully so you do not break up the crab too badly.  Form into patties, matching the oblong shape of the bread.  Place the remaining breadcrumbs on a sheet pan or plate, and bread the patties.  Brown in hot butter, 3-4 minutes on a side, until they are crispy and delicious.  Once you have turned the patties, add the cheese so it will melt as the second side cooks.  Place the patties on the bread, which has been sliced open and served dressed (tomato, lettuce, pickle, onion, and mayo). [Press as a panini if desired. Rosetti’s Restaurant claims to have originated the pressed po-boy, a staple in Biloxi]


One thought on “The Van Cleave Special | Recipe

  1. Pingback: The Biloxi Seafood Cookbook | On Our Bookshelf | OKRA Magazine

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