Feelin’ Crabby: Part One

Corks & Cake Contributor: Kathryn Michel

Drinks on the veranda.

Drinks on the veranda.  Photo by Allison Beuker.

 

Our guest contributor today is Kathryn Michel, a native Marylander who grew up in Potomac.  Kathryn has served as Social Secretary to several prominent Washington hostesses and is a consummate event planner.  She’s planned parties in just about every venue around town from the White House, to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, the Corcoran, and the Capitol building.  In addition to her passion for parties she has a passion for animal rescue work, in particular with horses.  She is also riotously funny (I can attest!) and is a great person to have on board during a complex event because she keeps her cool.

 

Blue crab, wild caught in the USA. (This is from Virginia, not Maryland, full disclosure.)

Blue crab, wild caught in the USA. (This brand is from Virginia, not Maryland, full disclosure.)
Photo by Rebecca Penovich.

 

The lady knows her way around a crab cake (the most popular party appetizer in these parts).  She, Allison, and I agree that our favorite crab cake is the classic Maryland crab cake and by that we mean NO FUNNY STUFF.  No tarragon, no potato chips, no green peppers, no bacon, no artichoke hearts, just stop it already you crazy chefs!

 

 Title page of this vintage tome reads:  To The Generations Of Maryland Cooks Who Since 1634 Have Blended The Fruits Of Bay, Field and Forest Into Maryland's Way Photo by John Penovich.

Title page of this vintage tome reads: To The Generations Of Maryland Cooks Who Since 1634 Have Blended The Fruits Of Bay, Field and Forest Into Maryland’s Way
Photo by John Penovich.

 

My go-to crab cake recipe comes from the venerable Maryland’s Way Cook Book, published by the Hammond-Harwood House Association in 1966.  The Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis was built in 1774 by the colonial architect, William Buckland, and is on the National Historic Landmark registry.

There are five recipes for crab cakes in this vintage book (out of 21 for crab in general.) The one I call for is the one named “Yardley’s Crab Cakes.”  I don’t know who Yardley was (no surname) but the credit lists Baltimore Sun under his name.  A very cursory Google search leads us to believe this recipe could have originated with either a very popular cartoonist with the Baltimore Sun newspaper named Yardley, or a prominent Baltimore gastroenterologist named John Howard “Jack” Yardley.  Culinary sleuths, please report out in the comments if you have any intel.

Use the best lump crab meat that you can afford and treat it gently.  Don’t try to stretch it with too much filler, just make the cakes baby-size and let everyone enjoy one perfect bite of the dish that speaks to the heart of Maryland cuisine:  fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay, enhanced but not covered up.

I change it up sometimes by adding lots more parsley and less bread.

Crab cakes dressed for company with sriracha remoulade. Photo by John Penovich.  Food styling by Rebecca Penovich.

Crab cakes dressed for company with sriracha remoulade.
Photo by John Penovich. Food styling by Rebecca Penovich.

Yardley’s Crab Cakes from Maryland’s Way Cookbook

1 pound lump crab meat
1 egg
2 slices white bread
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (Grey Poupon Dijon, preferred)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
Pull inside of bread into small pieces, soak well in beaten egg with mustard and seasonings, add crab meat (trying not to break it).  Form into cakes and cook until brown in 2 T. very hot bacon fat (or butter).  Makes 6 big cakes or 16 golf-ball size cakes.
Enjoy!
Rebecca’s Notes:  I whirred my bread in the food processor to get coarse crumbs before soaking.  I find that chilling the formed crab cakes in the refrigerator (under plastic wrap) for at least 30 minutes before pan-frying helps them keep their shape.  If you do chill them, you might want to put them in a warm oven (350 ° for 5-6 minutes) after getting a good browning on both sides to ensure that they are warm throughout but not overcooked.
In Feelin’ Crabby Part Two:  Kathryn shares her grandmother’s celebrated dinner party dish of Deviled Crab and Rebecca offers up a modern take on the Maryland crab cake from chef Tom Douglas, author of I Love Crab Cakes.

3 thoughts on “Feelin’ Crabby: Part One

  1. Vidalia is one of my favorite restaurants. This looks like a great recipe, too! Maybe I should do a Feelin Crabby Part Two AND Three!

  2. Pingback: Feelin’ Crabby: Part Two |

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