Crab Cake Muffs
Excerpt and recipe from Mason Hereford's new cookbook Flavor Trippin' in New Orleans
OK, technically this a sandwich, because putting things on bread is almost always a solid idea. But the crab cake is the headliner here. The keys are really nice lump crabmeat, keeping those lumps intact by using a cherub’s touch when you mix the ingredients, and giving the mix some time in the fridge, so the saltines have a chance to bind it all together. White bread’s fine, but my buddy Big Bob O’Donnell says that up North they serve crab cakes on English muffins. I tried it and it’s definitely the pro move. Whether you choose one, the other, or none at all, do consider serving your crab cakes with zesty buttermilk dressing and a giant squeeze of lemon.
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1 egg¼ cup mayo (Duke’s or bust)
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
½ teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal or about half as much Morton)
10 saltine crackers, crushed real small (like coarse bread crumbs)
1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, picked through for lingering hard stuff
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup Big Zesty Buttermilk Dressing
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room-temp so it’s mayo-soft
- 4 English muffins, split
- 1 juicy lemon
1 cup shrettuce
- Louisiana-style hot sauce for serving
- ½ cup mayo (Duke’s or bust)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or more if you like
- 2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean chile flakes) or other red chile flakes
- 2 teaspoons Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal or about half as much Morton), or more if you like
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Big Zesty Buttermilk Dressing
To make the crab cakes:
- About an hour before you start to cook, whisk together the egg, mayo, Old Bay, tarragon, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, use your hands to gently toss together the crackers and crab. Fold in the mayo mixture with a delicate touch to keep those lovely crab lumps intact the best you can. Fridge it for at least an hour (so the saltines turn into food glue) or up to a day.
- Separate the crab mixture into four blobs, then lightly pack them into 1-inch-or-so-thick patties that are about as wide as the English muffins, and put them on a plate.
- Get a large heavy skillet hot over high heat, then add the oil and give it a swirl. When it smokes, add the patties with a little space between each one. Lower the heat to medium and cook until these babies are pancake brown on both sides and hot through, about 4 minutes per side. Move them to a plate. Scrape up any stuck, crispy bits of crab cake and eat them.
To make the dressing:
- Mix all the ingredients together well. If you want, add more salt and lemon.
- It keeps in the fridge for up to 10 days.
To assemble the muffs:
- Mix the buttermilk dressing and tarragon in a little bowl and let it hang out.
- Put the skillet back over medium heat. Generously butter the cut sides of the English muffins, then cook them in batches, cut-side down, until they’re nice and toasty, 2 to 3 minutes. Set them aside.
- Squeeze the whole lemon all over the crab cakes, then make sandwiches on the English muffins with the crab cakes, tarragon sauce, and shrettuce. Eat with the hot sauce handy, in case anyone’s feeling spicy.