- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2005

One of my good friends, a fellow Southerner, has spent the better part of the last few months recovering from knee surgery. She confessed several days earlier that she had missed entertaining and longed to have a few people in for a simple meal.

She was unsure about her mobility and whether she could undertake the cooking, even of a casual supper. “Why don’t we plan a menu together,” I quickly replied, and watched as her face lit up. We had plenty of friends in common, so the guest list was easy.

When we began to discuss what to serve, I suggested we order pulled pork from our favorite barbecue restaurant in the South. (For a moderate fee, the establishment will FedEx barbecue to fans who live afar.) We added baked beans to our pork order, then decided on the rest of the meal.

I would make crab cakes for appetizers, while she would bake a chess pie for dessert. There would be hamburger buns for guests to mound with the tender pork and coleslaw.

Golden crab cakes with lime mayo

The crab cakes can be cooked 2 hours ahead. They then must be covered and refrigerated. To warm, place crab cakes on a baking sheet and cover with foil; reheat in a 350-degree oven, about 10 minutes.

cup bread crumbs, preferably from good quality peasant or country loaf without crusts

2 scallions, minced, ends and all but 2 inches of dark green stems removed

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon ground cumin

teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, picked over

4 to 5 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise (see note)

2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 to 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

LIME MAYO:

cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon lime zest

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro plus a few sprigs for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix together bread crumbs, scallion, cilantro, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Blend in egg and crabmeat. Mix in 4 tablespoons mayonnaise. Add the additional tablespoon of mayonnaise if mixture doesn’t hold together.

Scoop 2 tablespoons crab mixture into your hands and shape into patties about 2 inches in diameter. Place on a backing sheet. You should get about 22 crab cakes. Cover with a single layer of paper towels and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or longer to firm.

For the lime mayo, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice and zest in a small non-reactive bowl. (Mayo can be prepared one day ahead to this point; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature 15 minutes before using.) Stir in cilantro when ready to serve.

To cook crab cakes, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking, add enough crab cakes to fit comfortably in a single layer in pan. Cook about 3 minutes per side until golden. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Place on a platter and repeat with remaining patties, adding more butter and oil in equal amounts as needed to cover the bottom of the pan.

Arrange 2 to 3 patties on a small plate, place a dollop of lime mayo in the center and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Repeat with remaining crab cakes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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