Families and friends will soon be coming together to cheer on their favorite teams in the season’s pinnacle matchups leading up to Super Bowl LVI. To ensure that guests have enough energy to cope with the drama, the hosts must provide enough food.
Snacks are preferred on game days because they are easy to grab and eat with your hand, especially when you are crying out for space in the crowd. Sliders or cheese sticks are preferred options, but for a more gourmet offering, think about crab cakes. These best crab cakes of all time, as advertised in Mitch Benjamin’s “BBQ Revolution” (Harvard Common Press), are a tasty change of pace.
The best crab cakes of all time
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
2 chopped celery ribs
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, preferably roasted, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 pounds smoked crab meat
6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs
26 Ritz crackers, crushed
Vegetable oil for frying
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 lemons, cut into wedges for garnish
Heat a stick of butter in a small saucepan over low heat until the solids separate. Scoop the white foam that rises to the top with a ladle and pour the clear butter aside to cool.
In another small pot, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and add the chopped celery and onion, as well as 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning. Cover and sweat this over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are nice and soft. It’s going to smell amazing, but don’t start eating now!
Remove the vegetables from the heat and let them cool. Transfer vegetables plus clarified butter and hot sauce to large mixing bowl. Add the crab and heavy whipping cream and mix gently. The worst thing you could do here is over mix the crab and break up the lumps of fat you just paid a premium for.
Cover and place this mixture in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove and shape the mixture into 5-ounce balls (about the size of a snowball) in your hands. Again, be nice; you’re not packing these snowballs for war. You should be able to get six good ones out of the mix.
Cover with plastic wrap and then return to the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight. You must get these nice cold cakes as you are not using any fillers / binders in these crab cakes.
While the mixture is cooling, beat the eggs in a small bowl with a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Add the crushed Ritz crackers to another bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 degrees for later.
Remove the frozen crab cakes from the freezer and dip them in the egg then in the seasoned Ritz crumble mix. Cover completely. Repeat with all the crab cakes and reserve.
Get about 1/8 inch of your hot vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over the coals of the grill. I like to cook these crab cakes outdoors to prevent the oily smell from taking over the kitchen. There is nothing better than a cast iron skillet over hot coals.
If necessary, place it on your home gas stove. Get it hot. I like that they drip drops of water to see when the oil is hot enough. The drops will sizzle and pop, and that’s how you know it’s done.
Carefully drop the crab cakes into the pan and lightly press on them just to flatten them a bit so they look a bit more cake-like and sit nicely on your plate. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side until a perfect golden crust is obtained (do not burn the outside).
Then put the entire cast iron skillet in the oven for 20 minutes. If desired, you can use a fish spatula or slotted spoon to transfer the cakes to a baking sheet and leave the oily smell out.
After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and place on the plate.