Sunday, December 29, 2013

Crabcakes with Lemon-Caper Aioli

Many people that enjoy eating well spend a good bit of money around the holidays, whether it be at a nice restaurant for New Year's Eve or shelling out some coin to cook some lobsters or a prime rib at home.  This year we went extravagant on making these crabcakes, splurging on good jumbo lump meat.  You can find high-quality canned crabmeat at your fishmonger or a decent grocery store.  The jumbo lump variety will probably be around $18-$20 per pound, if you don't want to spend that much claw meat is about $5 per lb cheaper.  I doubled the recipe and used a pound of each, freezing half of the cakes for a second round of holiday eating.  These cakes are the real deal, all crab, just enough bread crumb to hold them together.  You can make them as described below for a tasty main dish or form golf ball size cakes for little appetizers.  The lil guys would cook up in 2-3 minutes per side. 

The lemon-caper aioli brings a briny and bright touch to complement the rich crab.   

These are very easy and quick to make, and if you're looking to serve up something fancy to your guests and want a do-ahead meal, this is a good option.  From the fridge to the plate in less than 10 minutes with little work.

Two important notes- don't press down while cooking, and don't agitate them while browning- let them develop a crust by letting them be.   

Crabcakes with Lemon-Caper Aioli
four servings

1/2 C mayo
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1/2 ts lemon zest
1.5 TB capers, drained and chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 TB extra-virgin olive oil

1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
4 scallions, green part only, minced
1 TB fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (never cook with the curly variety)
1/4 C Hellmans or your preferred mayo
2-4 TB fresh breadcrumbs, homemade preferred
1.5 ts Old Bay seasoning
freshly cracked black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 C AP flour
1/4 C veggie oil
scallion or chive, for garnish

for the aioli-
Combine the mayo through garlic in a small bowl, mix well.  Season to taste with S&P.  Slowly add the olive oil while whisking to emulsify.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, will last a few days. 

for the cakes-
Empty the crab into a bowl and pick over for any shell fragments. 

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a sheet pan. 

In a large bowl, mix the crab, scallion, parsley, mayo, 2 TB bread crumbs, Old Bay, and a pinch of fresh black pepper.  Mix thoroughly yet gently and then fold in the egg.  Test a golf ball size or so to see if it stays together and will hold shape, if not it may need another 1-2 TB of breadcrumbs. 

Make four cakes slightly thicker than a hockey puck, about 3" in diameter and 1.5" thick.  Stash in the fridge for at least 60 minutes, up to 24 hours, covered with plastic wrap. 

 When ready to cook, heat up the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Place the flour in a shallow dish or plate and add the cakes one at a time, coating well and shaking off any excess.  When the oil is shimmering hot, fry on one side for 4-5 minutes, until a brown crust forms.  Do not move while browning or shake the pan.  Cook on the flipside for 3-4 minutes until nicely browned.  Plate em up and serve topped with the aioli and a touch of scallion or chive for garnish.  Side of risotto with a generous amount of parmigiano reggiano optional but recommended.  A crisp, dry white such as Pinot Gris would wash this down properly.  

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