Thursday, August 29, 2019

Crab Cake Pasta

click to enlarge

Have you ever made crab cakes from scratch? I have....and it can become a chemistry experiment gone awry in a very big hurry. It's not easy getting all those ingredients just right and formed into little hockey pucks that will not fall apart when you cook them.

And that is exactly why I am in love with this recipe by Emma Laperruque. She uses the very same ingredients you would use to make crab cakes...and makes it totally stress-free because she is leaving out the hockey puck part. She just tosses everything together in a bowl and adds in those beautiful pasta shells that make perfect scoops for the crab cake stuff. This is genius level thinking here!

While the recipe calls for jumbo lump crab meat, I would suggest you make the recipe even richer by using the meat from one Alaskan King Crab Leg. I buy mine in bulk from Costco for $21.99 a pound (so that I always have crab legs in my freezer).

4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
 Kosher salt
1/2 pound jumbo lump crab meat, drained
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 pound shell pasta (Conchiglie)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
10 saltine crackers
1/4 cup chopped chives


  1. Set a large pot of salted water, covered with a lid, on the stove to come to a boil.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons butter to a very large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted and the skillet is hot, add the prepped celery, onion and scallion. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and stir to coat all the vegetables in the butter. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.
  3. Once the vegetables are tender, push them toward the perimeter of the pan, so there’s a big empty circle in the center. Add another 1 tablespoon butter to melt. Now add the crab meat and sprinkle with salt. Cook the crab meat for about 4 minutes, until it’s just starting to brown in places, flipping halfway through. Pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice on top of the vegetables and crab, then gently stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat.
  4. When pot of water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
  5. While the pasta cooks, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Crush the Saltines with your hands, then add to the butter. Toss to coat. Toast the Saltine crumbs for about 3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Now, combine the mayo, Old Bay, Dijon, Worcestershire, and remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a big bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
  7. When the pasta is done, reserve ½ cup or so of pasta water, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the bowl with the Old Bay sauce, give a quick toss, then add the crab-vegetable mixture, about half the chopped chives, and a tablespoon of reserved pasta water. Gingerly toss again, taking care not to break up the crab lumps.
  8. Serve immediately, with the fried Saltines and remaining chives sprinkled on top.

Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

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