Crab cake breakfast
Breakfast is not my favorite meal. Actually, that's not true. I love a leisurely breakfast, a weekend breakfast, a breakfast featuring homemade pancakes, bacon, stuffed french toast, or slow-cooked, creamy grits. It's the weekday breakfast I'm not so thrilled about. My typical work day morning is sure to include coffee, but not much else. I sometimes grab a piece of fruit as I head out the door, devouring it in the car. Occasionally I throw a piece of bread in the toaster. On a really good morning, oatmeal topped with a bit of cream and brown sugar makes an appearance, but that's rare.
Friday morning was an exception to my hurried routine: I had crab cakes for breakfast. Light, delicate, enhanced with shallot and parsley, bound with egg and breadcrumbs, brightened with lemon — they were fabulous. I toyed with the idea of a crab omelet, a seemingly more acceptable breakfast entree, but I just wanted a delicious crab cake. The beauty of living alone — no one is around to criticize.
Fresh backfin crab meat and a bag of clams arrived Thursday afternoon, my community supported fishery pick up day. I made the crab cakes that evening, giving them plenty of time to set up in the refrigerator, and spent the night reading. And looking forward to breakfast.
The following recipe is an adaption of the late Bill Neal's version, featured in his outstanding work Bill Neal's Southern Cooking. This book is a must for anyone interested in authentic Southern cuisine. Every recipe is a keeper, and Neal provides a great deal of history in this well-written classic. I adore his crab cakes because they are simple, allowing the crab to shine through rather than be overpowered by other ingredients. I didn't have the scallions or parmesan cheese the recipe calls for, so I substituted shallots and upped the amount of parsley. I also used fewer breadcrumbs than the original recipe, simply because they weren't needed — the cakes held together. These are wonderful served with homemade tartar sauce, but I just squeezed a bit of lemon juice over them and got the day off to a great start.
A quick thanks to everyone who commented or emailed in response to my melancholy day. I'm slowly pulling up and out of the downward trajectory. Avocado on toast does help, as does a rather luxe breakfast.
Makes 8-9 cakes
1 pound backfin crab meat, picked through for shells
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large slice stale white bread, crust removed and cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, tossing gently to combine. Press into small cakes and refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour. Saute in melted butter over medium heat, browning both sides. If you're working in batches, place the first group of browned crab cakes on a platter in a low oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) while you saute the second batch.
Serve with lemon wedges or homemade tartar sauce.