With this attractive rendition, Inn at Easton chef-owner Andrew Evans won the second annual "I Love Crab Cakes" contest held in Washington in early June. The chive oil, tomato confit and tartar sauce accompaniments come together quickly and can be made a day in advance. It's helpful, but not necessary, to have ring molds to create uniform crab cakes and croutons.
The chef likes to use Safeway brand Texas toast (in the frozen foods aisle) for the crouton base and crab cake mixture.
Servings: 9 crab cakes
- For the chive oil
- 2 cups chopped chives (from 3 bunches)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Pinch sea salt
- For the tartar sauce
- 1/4 cup minced gherkins
- 1/4 cup minced capers
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons snipped chives
- 2 sprigs minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon gherkin pickle brine
- Finely grated zest and juice from 1 medium lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the tomato confit
- 6 Roma tomatoes, quartered and seeded
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- For the crab cakes
- 1 loaf (11.25 ounces) Texas toast, such as Safeway Texas Toast Bread
- 1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked free of shells and cartilage (be careful to leave lumps of crab intact)
- For the croutons
- Olive oil, for frying
For the chive oil: Run the chives underneath very hot tap water until they have softened; that will help prevent the chive oil from turning brown. Drain the excess water and place the chives in a blender. Puree, adding the oil in a slow, steady stream until an emulsion forms. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and season with salt to taste. Transfer to an airtight container or a plastic squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the tartar sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the minced gherkins, capers, shallots, chives and parsley. Add the egg yolk, mayonnaise, gherkin brine, and lemon zest and juice, stirring to mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the tomato confit: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the tomato quarters skin side down on the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Lay the thyme sprigs on top of the tomatoes. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the tomatoes are soft but not completely dry. When cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and dice the flesh; transfer to a small bowl. Discard the thyme. Add the chopped chives and extra-virgin olive oil; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the crab cakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a large, lightly greased rimmed baking sheet and 2 round molds or biscuit cutters measuring 2 1/2 and 3 inches across.
Reserve 3/4 of the Texas toast loaf to make the croutons; cut the remaining loaf into chunks and pulse in a food processor to form bread crumbs (you should have 4 cups of crumbs; if not, trim off and add the crust and sides of the reserved portion to make up the difference).
In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, egg yolk and Old Bay seasoning. Add the picked crabmeat and bread crumbs, gently folding the mixture to keep the lumps of crabmeat intact. Portion the crab mixture into the 2 1/2-inch mold/cutter, pressing lightly to prevent the crab cake from becoming dense, and then unmold, to make 9 cakes.
Heat 1/3 cup of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Working in batches, fry the crab cakes for 3 1/2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, adding oil as needed. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the centers of the crab cakes are hot. Cover loosely to keep warm.
While the crab cakes are baking, make the croutons: Line a plate with paper towels.
Fill a medium saute pan with enough olive oil to come up 1/3 of an inch inside the walls of the pan. Heat over high heat, until the oil is smoking. Using the 3-inch mold/cutter, punch out rounds of the reserved Texas toast loaf and use a slotted spatula to lower the rounds into the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain.
To assemble: Place a dollop of tartar sauce in the center of individual plates. Ring the tartar sauce with a drizzle of chive oil. Place the fried crouton on top of the tartar sauce, then the crab cake on top of the crouton. Place a teaspoon of tomato confit atop the crab cake and, if desired, add two chive spears so the crab cake has green antennae. Serve immediately.
Adapted from chef Andrew Evans.
Tested by Hal Mehlman.
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