Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Crab Cakes

You know what the best thing about Baltimore is? The Wire. The second best thing is probably these crab cakes. (Full disclosure: I’ve never actually been to Baltimore. But I would very much like to go one day. Until then, crab cakes and Michael K. Williams will have to do.)

Anyway. I really love crab cakes, and I order them almost any time I see them on a menu. For me, they are one of those “restaurant foods”, the type of thing you almost never make at home, because it’s hard to recreate. But I love a challenge, and when my 80 year old Newfie grandmother asked me for a good recipe for her to make at home, I felt I could certainly deliver by finding something doable in a home kitchen.

A quick Google search delivered “Pride of Baltimore” crab cakes from Food and Wine. I stuck to this recipe pretty closely, but I used olive oil instead of grapeseed oil (have you seen the price of grapeseed oil?). Not only that, I’m not sure really who would be proud to serve a crab cake without a healthy dose of Old Bay in it, so I added a teaspoon or so of that. Also, my grandmother may have saltines around, but I certainly do not. I used Panko. Ha! So I guess I really stuck to this recipe quite loosely. Here’s my version:

.     1 cup mayonnaise
.     1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
.     1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
.     Cayenne pepper
.     1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
.     Fine sea salt
.     1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
.     1 cup Panko crumbs
.     1 large egg, lightly beaten (I used 1 egg, but I would actually recommend using 2)
.     1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
.     1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
.     1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
.     1 tablespoon Old Bay

1. In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the lemon juice and season with cayenne and Old Bay. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise to a small bowl and reserve. Using the flat side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Whisk the garlic paste into the medium bowl of mayonnaise, then transfer the aioli to a serving bowl.

2. In a large bowl, gently mix the crabmeat with the Panko, egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and the reserved 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. Shape the mixture into six 1-inch-thick crab cakes and transfer to a wax paper-lined plate. Refrigerate until firm, at least 20 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Add the crab cakes and cook over moderate heat until golden on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip the crab cakes, then transfer them to the oven and bake until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the crab cakes to plates and serve with the garlic aioli.

This was quite a delicious recipe, and one that is easy enough to re-create at home. Now just get your hands on the entire box set of The Wire and settle in for an evening with McNulty and crew! Jameson not included. 

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