Maryland Crab Cakes with Fresh Greens and Red Pepper Sauce
Living in Washington, D.C. nothing says summer more than Maryland crabs. Thus I decided to make some crab cakes for some friends back in August. I have not made crab cakes that many times but I certainly have eaten them. I generally judge crab cakes based on how much actual crab I can taste in them. Nothing is worse than ordering crab cakes that are mostly bread crumbs with a hint of crab. The crab meat should be the star and you should not cheat your guests (or customers) by giving them all filling.
Originally, I was going to make crab cakes using Thomas Keller’s recipe from his Ad Hoc Cookbook. Ad Hoc is Keller’s casual eatery in Yountville, California. If you are ever visiting Napa Valley I would highly recommend getting a reservation at Ad Hoc. I went there a few years ago and had the best short ribs ever. Ever. It is located right down the street from Keller’s famed restaurant The French Laundry. (I am currently accepting applications for handsome men that would like to take me to dinner at The French Laundry and clean up after me in the kitchen) However, Keller’s recipe was really a combination of about 4 recipes in his cookbook and was far too complicated (at least for a Tuesday night after work) for a casual dinner with friends. Kate Gerlach has a great blog based on cooking recipes right out of cookbooks and she did an amazing (and hysterical) job in this post explaining how complicated this recipe was. I was glad that someone agreed with my assessment of this recipe (and glad that it happened to be a food blogger that was also named Kate)! This is my much simpler version of Thomas Keller’s recipe. Additionally, these crab cakes are gluten free as I used gluten free bread crumbs for one of the friends over for dinner that night. The gluten free bread crumbs added an extra bit of crunch to the outside of the crab cakes that I don’t think traditional bread crumbs would have been able to provide (and they allowed us all to feel like we were being healthier for a bit).
In this recipe the sweetness of the red pepper sauce provides the perfect contrast for the crab cakes that have a slight crunch on the outside but are full of soft lump crab meat. Served over fresh greens with a lemon vinagrette this is a great light summer time dinner. We paired this with a bottle (or two) of Chablis. Chablis is french wine that is made from Chardonnay grapes but is not aged in oak barrels and is a bit crisper and fruitier than Chardonnay. Cheers!
Red Pepper Sauce
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1.25 lb Jumbo Lump Crab Meat (Preferably Maryland Blue crab)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper finely chopped
- 1 large yellow Onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 3 Eggs beaten
- 1.5 teaspoons old bay seasoning
- 1.5 teaspoons Dijion mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 – 2.5 cupsGluten Free Bread crumbs (obviously regular, preferably panko, bread crumbs can be substituted here)
- Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped Flat Leaf Parsley
- Fresh Greens
- 1.5 cups Cherry Tomatoes
- Lemon Vinaigrette
- Sea Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
The red pepper sauce can easily be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. However, it literally takes 2 minutes to make (the first minute is spent taking the supplies out of the fridge). All you need to do is puree all of the ingredients for the red pepper sauce in a blender. Make sure you taste the sauce before adding any salt or pepper and then add according to your preference. If you think the sauce is too thick you can always add a little more olive oil. Easy. Sauce is done so take a sip of wine and get ready to make some crab cakes!
Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sauté the red bell pepper, yellow onion and garlic until soft. (About 5 minutes).
Make sure that you place the cleaned crab meat in strainer (preferably a small mesh one) and drain out as much of the liquid as you can. In a large bowl mix the dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, old bay seasoning, lemon juice, and parsley. Add the sautéed pepper, onion, and garlic to the bowl and combine. Now fold in the crab with fork. Add half of the bread crumbs and make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.
Pour the remaining bread crumbs into a shallow bowl. Spoon out the crab mixture and form a small cake. Roll the cake in the breadcrumbs to ensure that there is a crunchy outer crust. Repeat until you use up all of the crab mixture.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and sauté the crab cakes about 4-5 minutes on each side (this will depend on how big you made your crab cakes) or until the cakes are cooked throughout. As they sauté sip some wine and prepare a platter with your fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, and lemon vinaigrette.
When the crab cakes are done, remove them from the sauté pan and place atop the fresh greens on your platter that you just prepared. You can add the red pepper sauce to the platter or serve on the side so that guests can add it to their own plates.
Since this was a nice light summer dinner, we made some freshly whipped french vanilla whipped cream to serve with fresh berries and chocolate covered espresso beans for dessert. The perfect ending to the perfect DC summer meal! Enjoy!