Monday, February 16, 2015

Crab Cakes for Fat Tuesday

For a recent dinner party, we decided to do a Mardi Gras theme in honor of the upcoming Fat Tuesday celebration.  Granted, most of us in the Northwest are completely unfamiliar with the New Orleans Mardi Gras traditions, much less the food, so we all did research and picked out a different dish to bring.  I chose crab cakes.  I love crab cakes, and I order them any chance I get when I see them on a menu, but I have never made my own.  So, this little adventure brought me to look at many different recipes and left me extremely confused as every recipe was so different from one to the next.  Some called for milk, others called for eggs, some used fresh bread crumbs, others were dried or panko style.   My biggest worry was having them fall apart if they didn't have the right texture to hold them together.  Since I was going to use gluten free bread crumbs, it was especially important that there was some other binding agent in them.  These turned out perfect and not one fell apart.

These usually are served with some kind of remoulade, or cream based sauce, but I just liked them plain to really taste the crab.  Emeril Lagasse's recipe looked really good if you want a nice sauce to add to this dish.  

1 T butter (I use Earth Balance non-dairy butter)
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 green onions; diced (just the white and lighter green parts)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T chopped fresh thyme
3 Lemons, 1 juiced and 2 cut into wedges for serving
2 eggs
1 lb lump crab meat
1 cup dried bread crumbs* 
2 T cajun style spice such as Old Bay, Zataran's or Big Easy
1/4-1/2 cup olive or canola oil

*I used one box of Glutino's gluten free vegetable crackers, ground up in my food processor

Heat butter in a skillet, add diced pepper, shallot, green onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes or until softened.

Add eggs to large mixing bowl and whisk.  Juice one of the lemons and add lemon juice to the whisked eggs.  Add lump crab meat, cooked vegetables and fresh herbs to lemon and egg mixture. Blend together with a fork.  

In a separate bowl, mix together bread crumbs and cajun seasoning. Add seasoned bread crumbs to the crab meat  mixture and blend.

Lay a sheet of parchment or wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Form patties from crab mixture and lay on cookie sheet.  Place in refrigerator for at least an hour to allow crab cakes to become firm to better hold their shape before cooking.

Heat oil in a skillet.  Make sure you have enough for about 1/4 of an inch deep to cover the entire pan.  Oil is ready when a drop of water added makes a sizzling noise.  Cook a few crab cakes at a time, allowing enough room to easily turn them over with a spatula.  Cook each side for approximately 3 minutes.  An easy way to turn them is to use two spatulas; one to lift it up and tip it over and the other to catch it and gently lay it back down in the oil.  This method will prevent any oil splashes and not break your crab cakes.

Remove crab cakes and place on paper towels in a large baking dish to allow excess oil to drain. Continue cooking a few cakes at a time, until finished.

Serve with lemon wedges and a remoulade sauce if desired.

Dietary considerations:
These were made to accommodate one both gluten free and dairy free guests.  If those aren't a concern for you, you can use regular butter and any dried or panko bread crumb.

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