Ring In The New Year With An Old Classic

Decadent crab cakes are perfect with champagne on New Year's Eve

If your idea of celebrating the New Year involves an indulgent, pull-out-all-the-stops dinner, here's a recipe for you. Crab cakes courtesy of Westfield resident Margaret Hutchins hits all the culinary high notes, yet aren't overly complicated or time consuming. 

"My neighbor says that these are the only crab cakes he will eat. He says he orders them at restaurants just to see if they are as good as mine. So far I am the winner," Margaret said.

The difference between a good crab cake and a great one is the crab meat. There are lots of options for crabmeat and they are often confusing. First and foremost, do not buy anything labeled "Krab." It's misspelled because it's imitation crabmeat. Insulting or clever, you decide. The real stuff is canned but fresh and in the seafood department or at your local fish store. Lump crabmeat is ideal for crab cakes. It's a little pricey, around $20/pound, but special occasions require special ingredients, so go for it.

The crab meat is the star of the show and it's important to respect that with the other ingredients. A few spices and finely chopped greens along with an egg and mayo bind it all together. But it's the hand crushed saltine crackers that make them exceptional. As Margaret says, "Crush the crackers by hand. That's the secret."

Margaret serves her crab cakes with basmati rice, a green salad and warm bread. The only thing missing is a glass of champagne. Cheers!

Crab Cakes

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Makes 8 crab cakes

1 large egg

1 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper

3 finely chopped scallions (white and light green parts)

2 tablespoons loosely packed basil, chopped

12 saltine crackers, crushed by hand (not powdered)

1 pound lump crabmeat

1 stick unsalted butter

Lemon wedges for serving

In a large bowl, mix eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Stir in green pepper, scallions and basil followed by crackers. Gently mix in crab meat avoiding breaking up its lumps.

Using a 1/3 dry measuring cup, mold the cakes one at a time, turning the cup and plopping them onto your hand or directly onto tin foil.

In a large skillet over medium/high heat, melt butter ( as much as you like... remember everything tastes better with butter) and cook the crab cakes until they are golden brown on each side. I serve them with plain basmati rice and a nice green salad and warm bread!!

* If you do not want to cook them with butter you can broil them. Get the crab cakes nice and golden brown on both sides. They take about 10 minutes or less.....

* You can also squeeze lemon directly over them when they are done cooking... I do not... but you can!!


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