Crab cakes revisited
A bottle of Champagne that needed tasting and a sale on fresh lump crab meat at a local grocer came together the other day in an obvious solution: Crab cakes! This tasty treat, a regional specialty of Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay area that's beloved worldwide, finds its natural match in rich white wines, and is equally good with a decent Chardonnay or an excellent bottle of bubbly.
I wanted a quick dinner, and for wine matching purposes, a simple, straightforward preparation that showcased fresh crab without a lot of competing flavors seemed best. I got there by simplifying and streamlining a favorite recipe featured in the Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on May 9, 2002
Here's how it went:INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
12 ounces (350 grams) lump crabmeat
1. Put the crabmeat in a bowl, fluff it with a fork, and pick out any bits of shell or cartilage. Crunch the saltines into tiny pieces with your hands, and set aside.
2. Break the egg into a bowl and whip it with a fork or whisk. Then stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt, pepper and a discreet shot of hot sauce to taste.
3. Stir the mayonnaise mixture into the crabmeat, handling it gently to avoid breaking up the lumps of crab. Gently stir in the crumbled saltines, using about half at first; don't use any more than necessary to make the mixture thick enough to form into patties.
4. Divide the mixture into four equal parts, and form each into a golf-ball-size round. Press them into thick patties, put them on a lightly oiled plate, and put them in the refrigerator to rest for a half-hour or so.
5. Melt the butter over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, and when it's hot, carefully put in the crab cakes. Let them cook for about three minutes on one side without moving them, then turn them gently, using a thin spatula, and cook for about four minutes on the other side. Flip one more time and cook for another minute or so, a total of about eight minutes. They should be crisp and golden brown on the outside, sweet and tender in the middle.
MATCHING WINE: As noted, any rich white wine - still or sparkling - is a natural match. We enjoyed them with a favorite artisanal bubbly, Jean Vesselle Champagne Brut "Oeil de Perdrix."
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Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
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