Saturday, February 23, 2013

Maryland Style Crab Cakes

I’ve had friends in Baltimore for nigh on twenty years now, and when I visit them, I always make sure to enjoy some of that most ubiquitous of Maryland dishes, blue crab.  Way back in the mid Nineties, my friends Les, Chris and Donna treated me to an official Maryland Crab Boil (though they were steamed, actually), and we sat for hours on Chris’s back porch pickin’ crab and drinking lots of Natty Boh Beer.  Those were some good times, hon. 

But, as fun and tasty as that was, I’ve found that the way I best enjoy the meat of these little Chesapeake Bay bugs is pre-picked and formed into a delicious, spicy crab cake.  Not only is it easier, but I think it’s tastier too, as the crab meat is augmented with some herbs and spices to really make it sing.  Then of course, it’s fried.  Fried stuff always tastes better. 

Oh, and did I mention spice?  Well, proper Maryland crab cakes are spiced up with a product called Old Bay Seasoning.  

Old Bay is to Maryland what Tabasco is to Louisiana.  Fact is, they put it on everything up there...eggs, slaws, potato chips, corn on the cob, etc.  And of course, I don’t blame them, because Old Bay is delicious.  I keep a can in my spice rack at all times. 

So, a couple of weeks ago the Superbowl (pretty much the biggest yearly sporting event here in the States) took place. My Baltimore friends were quite excited, as their team, the Ravens, were playing in the affair.  I too enjoy the Superbowl, even though my beloved Dallas Cowboys haven’t been in it for quite some time now.  Anyway, when we watch the Big Game, the wife and I like to whip up some grub to enjoy as we watch.  I thought, ‘Hey, Baltimore’s in the game, why not make some crab cakes?”

Well, I’d never made them before, so I inquired of my friends for their recipes.  They obliged, and the wife and I went with a somewhat hybrid version of what they sent.  The crab cakes came out great, so I decided to get ‘em up on the blog as quick as I could.  I hope y’ins enjoy ‘em, hon.

Maryland Style Crab Cakes

12 oz Lump Crab Meat, Blue Crab if available
10 Ritz Crackers, crumbled very fine
1 Egg
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Chopped Parsley
2 Teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Dash Cracked Black Pepper
1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Crush the Ritz crackers very fine.  Pulsing in your food processor works great.  Mix with the egg, lemon juice, mayo, parsley, Old Bay, Worcestershire and black pepper.  Stir until all is incorporated. 

Now for the crab.  If you can get hold of fresh blue crab meat, this is your best yet, but if you live in Texas or similar, like me, you may have to settle for canned.  If so, get the best quality canned crab you can afford.  It’ll make a difference.  We made our crab cakes during the Superbowl with canned, and they were great, so don’t sweat it too much. 

Pour your crab meat into a separate bowl from what you’ve already mixed and pick through the meat to make sure there is no cartilage or bits of shell.  Once this is done, slowly add the crab meat to the spice/mayo mixture, stirring until all is incorporated.  Don’t over stir the mixture, do only enough to combine.  Too much mixing and you’ll break up the nice lumps of crab meat into shreds. 

Shape the mixture into five or six small patties...

 Coat with the Panko bread crumbs

...then refrigerate them for at least an hour. 

Heat a skillet with vegetable oil about ½ inch deep in it to 375F.  Use a fork to lower the cakes into the oil, and fry them on each side until they are golden brown.  

Serve immediately by themselves, or with some tartar or remoulade sauce. 

Until next time,

No need to get crabby, have some crab cakes!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sauce Remoulade

Remoulade is a tasty sauce invented by those saucy French that tastes great on fish, shrimp and other seafood dishes.  It found a foothold here in the States via New Orleans cuisine, but we thought we’d try it with the Maryland Style Crab Cakes we made recently, and it was a match made in heaven.  Here’s a quick and easy recipe to make your own Remoulade sauce. 

Sauce Remoulade 

3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons Dill Pickle Relish
1 Tablespoon Sweet Paprika
2 Teaspoons Prepared Horseradish
1 Teaspoon Creole Seasoning (Tony Chachere’s or similar)
1 Teaspoon Capers, plus a few reserved for garnishing
1/2 Teaspoon Louisiana-Style Hot Sauce
1 large Garlic Clove, minced

Stir all the ingredients together until well incorporated.  

No need to use a food processor here, Remoulade should have some chunks of pickle from the relish and the whole capers in it.  Let the sauce sit for a few hours in the fridge so the flavors can meld.  Serve cold with seafood dishes, chips, raw veggies, etc. 

Here's to a saucy evening! 


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Navy Beans

My father served in the United States Navy, and...he loved navy beans.  Coincidence?  I think not.  When I was a kid and Mom would serve up a mess of her navy beans, Dad always seemed a little happier than he might have been otherwise.  As he ate his navy beans, he’d have a look on his face as if he were standing on the bow of his ship, staring off into exotic ports beyond the wine dark sea.  Yes, those beans were that good. 

(Dad in the Navy during World War II)

I never learned Mom’s exact recipe for her navy beans, but I’d imagine it was quite simple.  Little bacon grease, salt, pepper...and that was probably about it.  So in concocting this recipe, I tried to keep it simple as well and not get all crazy Nouveau Cuisine on it.  But I couldn’t resist putting a few tweaks on it to make it my own.  So, I compromised, and only added a little here and there to get a flavor I was satisfied with, but not depart too far from Mom’s original version.  I also didn’t want to add anything that would mar the beautiful white color of the beans, so that was a criterion as well. 

So, without further ado, here we go:

Navy Beans

5-6 strips hickory smoked bacon
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons white pepper
48 oz chicken broth (6 cups)
1 pound navy beans, soaked overnight and drained

The night before, soak the beans in enough water to cover them by a couple of inches.  Beans will absorb some of the water.  The next day, just before you’re ready to cook, drain the beans and discard the water.  Reserve beans.

Simmer five or six strips of bacon until crispy.  Reserve the bacon.  In the bacon grease, sauté one chopped onion until it’s beginning to get translucent but not brown.  

Add garlic and cook for two minutes.  Add cumin and white pepper.  Cook another minute.  Add beans and then add chicken broth.  

(I decided to use chicken broth instead of water to boost the bean’s savory character.  Simmering the beans with ham hocks would be more traditional, but I’ve had trouble getting good hocks around here these days.  The ones I’ve purchased at the grocery store are often slightly rancid, which ruins the dish.  So I’ve sworn off of them until I find a better source)

 Bring beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 hours, or until beans are tender. 

Serve with a little of the reserved crispy bacon crumbled on top. 

Until next time,

Anchors Aweigh, my friends!


The Eat'n Man ponders life, the universe, and navy beans on the deck of the USS Missouri.