Thursday, January 19, 2012

Corn and Crab Cake over Cheese Grits

Plowing through post-holiday depression is like overcoming inertia: the longer you let things lie, the harder it is to get off that couch, or out of the cozy confines of your bed and move. Part of it is no doubt the result of being bogged down by the excesses of rich food from Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve. To that end, as a sort of detox program, I often dive into vegan recipes in the beginning of January, only to find myself with an insane craving for bloody meat and creamy cheese after about 10 days. I imagine a Paleolithic Me hunkered over a fresh kill by the light of some fire, hands and mouth dripping with blood as I howl to the moon.

Yeah ok, I know. Over the top.

So, the vegan interlude over, I am back to my normal routine of cooking anything I like from scratch, and trying to delve back into the realm of Cooking As Therapy. The girls wanted a little plate of "something fancy," so I thought what better way to use the crab and  leftover corn than as a crab cake. I have been attempting to broaden their horizons when it comes to starches and grains, and figured that cheesy polenta would provide a nice counterpoint to the crab. A dollop of sweet red pepper relish (bought, I'm afraid, and no doubt including that evil of all evils, high-fructose corn syrup) rounded it out.

Corn and Crab Cake over Cheese Grits

Makes 8 small or 4 large servings 


For the corn and crab cakes:
  • 8 oz. lump crabmeat, precooked
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 - 3 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
  • panko
  • peanut oil for frying

For the cheese grits:
  • 1/2 cup corn grits or polenta - I like Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon cream
  • sweet red pepper relish (optional)


For the cheese grits:
  1. Place the corn grits, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally to be sure that it isn't going to stick and burn on the bottom. After 10 minutes, give a little taste to check for seasoning and add more salt if needed. I like to use homemade chicken stock which has no salt in it, so I usually add a bit more salt. If you are using chicken broth from a base, granules or a carton, you may be all set for salt. The gits will thicken up as you go. If you really prefer looser, more runny grits, add more stock or water as you go.
  2. After another 15 minutes, stir in the shredded cheese until it has melted, then add the butter and cream to taste. Set aside as you make the corn and crab cakes. You can quickly reheat them once you are ready to serve, or you can keep them over a very low heat as long as you check it frequently to make sure that it isn't scorching on the bottom. If you are really talented, you can make the corn and crab cakes as the grits are cooking. :)
For the corn and crab cakes:
  1. Saute the minced onion in olive oil over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the red onion and corn and saute for another 5 minutes or until the pepper is soft. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the lump crab meat and sauteed veggies. Fold in the mayo, Old Bay and granulated garlic until everything is nicely mixed. Feel free to taste a little bit to check that you like the amount of seasoning and adjust as needed.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat slightly and then add to the crab mixture, stirring well. Gradually add the soft breadcrumbs and mix well. 
  4. Pour panko crumbs into a pie tin or a large shallow bowl.
  5. Shape the mixture into 8 patties and dredge in the panko crumbs, slightly pressing them into the surface. Set each crab cake aside on another plate to rest while you make the rest. Once they're done, you can cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit in the fridge or you can fry them right away. I've done it both ways with good results.
  6. Heat some peanut oil in a large skillet and fry the crab cakes in batches until golden brown on both sides.
  7. Serve on a bed  of the cheese grits and top with a dollop of sweet red pepper relish.
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