I have posted crab cakes and oven fries recipes on the blog before, but I did make them a little differently this past week when we had them for dinner. This time, I decided to use the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, which I find I used for many different things. It has lots of great recipes in it, both basic and a little more technical see you can cover just about everything. The cookbook also has a lot of great hints as far as equipment, kitchen accessories, techniques, and more. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a cookbook batting compresses everything. The crab cakes recipe that I used is pretty basic and easy to follow.
Pan-Fried Crab Cakes
1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over to remove cartilage and shell fragments
4 scallions, green parts only, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, dill, or basil
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-4 tablespoons plain dried breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
Salt and ground white pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Tartar sauce (recipe to follow)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently mix the crab meat, scallions, parsley, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs, and Old Bay in a medium bowl, being careful not to break up crab lumps. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Carefully fold in the egg with a rubber spatula until the mixture just clings together. If the cakes do not bind, add more breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon at a time, until they do.
Divide the crab mixture into four portions and shape each portion into a fat, round cake, about 3 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches thick. Arrange on a prepared baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Place flour in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Lightly dredge the cakes in the flour. Keep your loyal in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Gently lay the flowered cakes in the skillet and cook until the exteriors are crisp and browned, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve immediately with lemon wedges or sauce.
I’ve always found that the key to really good crab cakes is having less breadcrumbs, less filling and more crab. Most of the crab cakes you seem to get when you go out to a restaurant are just filled with breadcrumbs and don’t have much crab in them at all. Also, I have found many places tend overcook them so you really only need about four minutes per side just to crisp them up. Jumbo lump crabmeat can be quite expensive, so if you want a cheaper alternative you can certainly buy pasteurized crabmeat. That is what I used this time and I think the recipe turned out just fine. Another key is you really do need a good nonstick skillet to use to make these. There is nothing worse than trying to flip the crab cake that is stuck to the bottom of the pan. I served the crab cakes with that recipe that I also got from this cookbook for the tartar sauce. It’s really easy to make and it’s certainly better than anything you’re going to find in a store.
Homemade Tartar Sauce
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and let sit to blend of flavors together, about 15 minutes. Stir again before serving. The sauce can be refrigerated and stored for up to one week.
I didn’t have sweet pickle relish on hand, but I did have bread-and-butter pickles so I use them instead, I minced a few up and added a tiny bit of pickle juice to the mixture and I think it came out great. I also cut back a little bit on the mayonnaise as I am the only person leads tartar sauce in our house so this way we didn’t end up with a lot left over. The final piece of the dinner was one of Sean’s particular favorites for the night, which were the oven fries. I’ve tried making oven fries in the past with mixed results and this recipe is very similar to one I have tried before.
2 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 even wedges
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475°. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a large, heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper; set aside. Line the second baking sheet with triple layers of paper towels and set aside.
Drain the potatoes. Spread the potatoes out on the paper towel lined baking sheet, then thoroughly Pat dry the potatoes with additional paper towels. Rinse and wipe out the now empty bowl. Return the potatoes to the bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the oil baking sheet, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and bake for five minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the bottoms of the potatoes are spotty golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula and tongs, scraped to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue baking until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly.
While the fries bake, line a baking sheet with a triple layer of paper towels. Transfer the baked fries to the prepared baking sheet to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and serve.
There seems to be a couple of keys to the recipe that made it turn out better for me this time than the past. First, I tried to cut the potatoes as evenly as possible so everything would cook at about the same time frame. Soaking the potatoes for the required amount of time really makes a big difference as it pulls out a lot of the starch from the potato and helps to keep them from sticking to the pan. Adding the oil to the pan and a little bit to the potato not only helps with the sticking but helps with the browning process. Finally, covering the potatoes with aluminum foil for five minutes at the beginning of cooking allows the potatoes to steam so you can then crisp them up the rest of the cooking time. I certainly think it was a pretty successful effort this time out.
That’s it for today. Time for me to get back to work after spending yesterday evening at Citi Field watching the Mets game. I’ll have another recipe for you tomorrow so check back and see if it’s something you are interested in giving a try. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and hopefully you were not in the rain as we are here in New York. Enjoy your day and enjoy your meal!