listening: “Luna” by Ed Gerhard*
Another secular feast is almost upon us. I refer to Super Bowl Sunday. Let’s face it, for an occasion that requires food the choice of foodstuffs often leaves a lot to be desired. I do understand the logistics; you want to be able to pick something up and take it with you while you’re in front of the television. But the food offerings are never as exciting as the actual game; they are usually as forgettable as the half-time entertainment, except for the Janet Jackson debacle.
And please, no more wings! Isn’t there a shortage this year anyway? Let’s give the chickens a rest.
This year the game takes place in one of the major eating cities (New Orleans) and it’s being played between two teams each with their own home food story.
I am going to leave New Orleans for Mardi Gras (New Orleans seems to own that event) and look at San Francisco and Baltimore, even if it means forgoing oysters, shrimp po’ boys or fried oyster po’boys.
San Francisco is another one of our great eating cities but choosing something distinctly of that city to serve is difficult.
Baltimore, and the entire Eastern Shore, has a rich history with crab so why not serve crab cakes for the Super Bowl? To make it even easier, or game friendly, make them into crab cake sliders.
This is the way I make crab cakes. I just altered the recipe to include cracker crumbs instead of bread crumbs which I understand is the regional twist. The crab cakes can be made in advance and warmed in the oven before serving, which shouldn’t draw you away from the party for too long. With the recent interest in “all things slider,” you should be able to locate small buns for the crab cakes. While it’s not traditional, I make a spicy mayo to wodge on top of the crab cakes if you so desire.
So what to do for San Francisco? Serve something from Anchor Brewery, of course.
Around here “football” for our youngest daughter is that other game played throughout the rest of the world. She would gladly pass up the Super Bowl for a broadcast of her beloved Arsenal F.C. Go Gunners!
Crab Cake Sliders, Maryland Style
1 pound crabmeat
½ cup onion, cut into small dice
½ cup red bell pepper, cut into small dice
1 cup mayonnaise
juice of ½ lemon
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
½ cup crushed saltine crackers (about 9 square crackers), plus about 1 cup for forming the cakes
salt (taste and add as needed if using salted crackers) and freshly ground black pepper
vegetable oil or a combination of vegetable oil and unsalted butter, for cooking
1. Drain the crabmeat, if necessary. Place the crab meat into a bowl with the onion, and bell pepper; mix to combine. In a second bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the lemon juice. Pour this over the crab mixture, add the parsley, and mix to incorporate. Add the crushed saltines and mix until the crab mixture comes together. Taste and season with salt, if needed, and ground black pepper.
2. Sprinkle another cup of crushed saltines onto a plate. Form the crab mixture into cakes (I used a rounded Tablespoon to fit the size of the buns I used) then roll the crab cakes in the cracker crumbs until lightly covered. This crab cake mixture is delicate, so work gently. This mixture should make 27 to 28 small crab cakes.
3. Place a medium-sized nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl 2 to 3 Tablespoons oil into the pan (You could also use half oil and half butter). Place the crab cakes into the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the cakes and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove crab cakes from pan and drain on a paper towel lined baking tray. Wipe the sauté pan and add fresh oil as needed. The crab cakes can be kept on a tray then warmed in the oven before serving.
4. Lightly butter and toast the rolls before serving. Place a crab cake onto a roll, dollop with the spicy mayo, and serve.
2/3 cup mayonnaise
juice from ½ lime
1 to 2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped (adjust to your heat preference)
1. Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined. Serve with the crab cakes. Store leftover mayo in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*Full Disclosure: I have known Ed since high school so perhaps I am more than a little biased. He has shaped a career as a solo acoustic guitarist, composer, and teacher, performing both nationally and internationally to glowing praise, wining a Grammy award and releasing nine solo recordings along the way. He is a remarkable musician, imbued with a quiet virtuosity that is always at the service of the music. For more about Ed, here’s the link:http://www.virtuerecords.com/