Recently, Shaun and I picked up a bushel of crabs and took them to a family get together on the Eastern Shore. These crabs were caught right off of Kent Island by a family member who happens to be a commercial waterman. After the crabs were steamed, we all gathered around the back porch table to devour them. It seemed like the more crabs we ate, the bigger the pile became! Perhaps a bushel was more than we could handle, but don’t fret, the leftover crabs didn’t go to waste!
The next day Shaun picked the leftover crabs and I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that there was enough meat to make crab cakes. In case you’re unfamiliar with our state, crab cakes are to Maryland, what sweet tea is to the south. In one bite, crab cakes give you a true taste of what the Chesapeake Bay has to offer. Sweet jumbo lump crab meat and classic Old Bay seasoning- it’s a way of life here in Maryland!
When most people think of crab cakes, they think of the traditional “Maryland style” preparation- crab meat mixed with breadcrumbs, mayo, spices, and mustard. Well, guess what… I don‘t like mayo or mustard! I know, I know, I’m weird, but I can’t stand the smell of them, and there’s absolutely no chance I would ever cook with them! So how then does a Maryland gal like me satisfy a crab cake craving?
These Kent Island Crab Cakes with Tarragon Shallot Butter are not your typical crab cake- they’re much better. Packed with sweet jumbo lump Maryland crab meat, these crab cakes are topped with a rich tarragon butter that melts down into every little bite. The best part, however, is that they contain absolutely no mayo or mustard! There’s another top secret ingredient that holds these crab cakes together (you’ll have to check out the recipe below to see what it is). We served them with a simple salad and paired with the new Dead Rise beer from Flying Dog Brewery (it’s a summer ale brewed with Old Bay, and it’s oh so good)!
I named these crab cakes after the place where Shaun and I both grew up- Kent Island (he lived on the Island, I lived near it). It’s a little island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay and it’s your first stop on the Eastern Shore when crossing the Bay Bridge. It’s still Maryland, but it feels like a different world from the shores that surround it. If you ever get the chance to visit the Chesapeake region, be sure to add Kent Island (and the nearby Kent Narrows) to your agenda. Like these crab cakes, it’s Maryland, done different!
Kent Island Crab Cakes with Tarragon Shallot Butter
(Makes 6 crab cakes)
For the Crab Cakes:
16 oz crab meat, jumbo lump or backfin (local Maryland crab meat if available)
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup panko (we use a gluten free variety)
1 lemon juiced
1/3 cup plain organic Greek yogurt
pinch of black pepper
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, plus additional for garnish
1. Preheat your oven to 425*.
2.In a large mixing bowl, carefully combine all ingredients (it’s best to use your hands). You only want to mix the ingredients until the crab meat is well incorporated. Don’t over mix it or the crab meat will fall apart!
3. Using your hands form 6 crab cakes, each equally sized.
4. Place the crab cakes onto a foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil.
5. Sprinkle the crab cakes with additional Old Bay seasoning.
6. Bake the crab cakes at 425* for 15 minutes. Then, turn the oven on hi broil and continue to cook until the crab cakes are lightly golden brown on top.
For the Tarragon Shallot Butter
2 large stalks of tarragon, minced
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup organic salted butter, at room temperature
1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and mix until the tarragon, shallots, and lemon juice are all evenly incorporated throughout the butter.
2. Store in the refrigerator to chill prior to serving with crab cakes.