I used to serve a whole turkey at the farm each Thanksgiving and Christmas. But in recent years our family gathers at the farm for Thanksgiving, but at Tom’s for Christmas lunch. One year we had crab cakes and since then it has been atop the menu.
For 30 years my favorite crab cakes have come from Faidley Seafood in Lexington Market at Baltimore Harbor, Maryland. Bill and Nancy Devine are the owners of the award-winning restaurant—though I wonder if the place qualifies as a restaurant when there’s only standup counters and no chairs. I have met the Devines several times over the years and they say that my father-in-law came in there from time to time. I wouldn’t be surprised; he always enjoyed a good crab cake.
What’s in Those Crab Cakes?
I always wondered what the Devines put in their crab cakes to make them so doggone good. One day I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery, flipping through a Woman’s Day, when I came upon an article on Faidley’s that included the crab cake recipe. I immediately bought the magazine and have since made the crab cakes many times with good results.
It’s worth noting that unlike most fish purveyors in the Chesapeake Bay area, the Devines don’t use Old Bay seasoning. When I asked Bill Devine about this, he said too much seasoning masks the flavor of the crab meat.
Keep It Simple!
“Jazz it up too much and you ruin everything,” he says. “Keep it simple, but use the best ingredients.”
Devine also advised keeping the chunks large and forming the cakes gently and without too much pressure. The formula works and has drawn accolades from Smithsonian Magazine, the Travel Channel, Food Network, and Southern Living.
I look forward to those crab cakes at Christmas as much as I do turkey at Thanksgiving and they’re a whale of a lot easier to assemble and cook.
Christmas Past: At the Carnahan Table
My contribution to the holiday lunch this year is the clam chowder. It’s been a while since I’ve made clam chowder, so I looked about the Internet to see what the food guru’s were cooking. Since I’m inclined toward a creamy, less soupy chowder, I’m going with David Lieberman’s New England Clam Chowder. Video here.
When you copy the recipe of a well-respected chef and cookbook writer, you have someone to blame if anything goes awry. 🙄