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A Tower of Goodness

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    Posted: 10 October 2017 at 21:28
In my report on our recent trip to the Outer Banks I talked about Jolly’s Delight, a fantastic dish prepared at The Jolly Roger restaurant (
http://www.foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/honey-im-home_topic4857.html?SID=81381754z152e97c2z8527171a6f29251736111) I mentioned that I was going to try and replicate it, and just did.

My first take came out pretty good. It also gave me the opportunity to try something that’s been on my to-do list for a while. At the Thistle restaurant, in Portland, Oregon, they make their crabcakes with the addition of ground shrimp. According to the chef, it serves as a binder. Which makes sense. Being in the Northwest, they, no doubt, use Dungeness crab. So I suspect the shrimp also adds a flavor element otherwise lacking.

I combined that technique with a minor variation of my usual crab cake mixture. Here’s the recipe I used:

1 lb lump crabmeat
½ lb shrimp
Salt & white pepper to taste
1 tbls minced onion
1/3 cup matzoh meal or fine breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tbls Old Bay seasoning
Oil for frying

Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and white pepper. In a food processor or blender (another opportunity to use my Vitamix :>) ) mince the shrimp to a paste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in the egg, mayo, and seasonings. Mix in the matzoh meal or breadcrumbs until well combined. Fold in the crabmeat. Do not overwork it, as you want the pieces to maintain their integrity as much as possible.

Using about a quarter cup of the mixture, shape into patties. Coat both sides with additional matzoh meal. Set aside in fridge to firm up. Fry in a little oil until golden brown on both sides. Set aside and keep warm.

As we’ll see, I actually shaped them a bit differently, to better tie them to the grits cakes.

For the grits cakes:

2 cups water
1/2 cup heavy cream
¼ lb (1 stick) butter
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup grits (I prefer white, but yellow will do fine)
1 generous cup grated smoked Gouda
Clarified butter for frying

Over medium-high heat, bring the water and cream to boil. Add salt, pepper, and the butter. When butter is melted, slowly stir in the grits.

Cook the grits, stirring often, until smooth and creamy. This will take at least 20 minutes, and cannot be rushed. Stir in the cheese and continue stirring until cheese is melted and fully incorporated. Let mixture cool for a few minutes.

You can free-form both the grits- and crab cakes. But you’ll have a nicer looking presentation (with the added advantage of portion control) by using a pair of nesting cookie cutters as molds. Why nesting? So you get a slight step-down affect between the grits and the crab.

I went a step further, and used a pair of fluted cutters, for added an added textural break.

Using the larger of the cutters, set the cutter on a wax-paper-lined sheet pan, and fill it with the grits mixture. Use an off-set spatula to smooth and even the surface. Lift the mold away, and continue making cakes with the balance of the grits mixture. Cover with plastic film and set aside in the fridge for the grits to set up. You can do this step as much as a day in advance.

One tip: The exposed top surface will develop a skin, while the bottom stays moist. This can be a problem when you fry them. So, somewhere along the line, turn the cakes so that both sides form this pellicle-like crust.

With the molds I used, 1/3 cup of the grits worked perfectly.

Fry the grits cakes in clarified butter until browned on both sides, 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside to keep warm.

Then, using the smaller of the molds, form the crab cakes. Put a layer of matzoh meal or breadcrumbs in the bottom of a flat-bottomed bowl. Set the mold in the meal, and fill it with the crab cake mixture, smoothing and leveling it as above. Flip the whole thing, to coat the other side. Lift the mold away, and transfer to a waxed-paper-lined sheetpan. Set aside so the cakes firm up.

With my molds, ¼ cup of the crab meat mixture worked nicely.

Finally, make the sauce:

6 strips thick-cut bacon
2 tbls flour
1 tbls creole seasoning (note: I used home-made. Commercial seasoning, such as Tony
    Chachere’s, would work, but might make the sauce too salty)
1 ½ cups heavy cream, heated
2-3 tbls grated smoked Gouda

Fry the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels and when cool enough to handle, crumble.

Drain all but two tablespoons of bacon grease from pan. Add the flour, and cook, stirring, about a minute, to remove the raw-flour taste. Stir in the creole seasoning. Slowly add the hot cream, stirring continuously, until sauce is thickened. Add the smoked Gouda, and stir until it is melted and fully incorporated. Stir in about 2/3 of the bacon crumbles, reserving the rest for garnish.

Note: You can omit the cheese. But it helps add body to the sauce, and carries the flavor profile further.

To assemble: Center a grits cake in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate. Top it with a crab cake. Ladle sauce over the cake tower. Sprinkle some of the bacon bits on top as garish.









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And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2017 at 09:26
Wow - that sounds...that sounds really good!

I always enjoy reading your recipes, Brook, because your writing on the various steps is practical and makes it sound easy. This is something I would very much like to try.

How would you say that it compares to the Jolly Roger that you had? With the care you put into it, including home-cooking as well as the shrimp technique, I would guess that it is a bit of an improvement?

Your mention of homemade Creole seasoning also has me intrigued; I prefer it over "Cajun seasoning," because to me, it seems to be more complex. I would probably use it a lot more than I do; but as you say, the only one I know available to me, Chachere's, is too salty. Chances are I have most - if not all - components for a good homemade Creole seasoning in my pantry.

Excellent job, Brook - I am impressed with the work you put into it, and am grateful to you for sharing it!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2017 at 11:03
[How would you say that it compares to the Jolly Roger that you had/

That’s a trick question, right?

Naturally, I would say mine is better. But the reality is, they are almost indistinguishable. If anything, my sauce was slightly more creolish (is that a word?). But I’d happily eat either version.

I do like the shrimp paste idea. One thing about it, I suspect, is that it let’s you cut down on the filling tremendously. I used closer to ¼ cup than 1/3 cup of matzoh meal, and believe I can cut that down even further.

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland they use practically no filler. Chefs and housewives pride themselves on how little filler there is in their crab cakes. Until now, however, I haven’t been able to reduce it much, and still have the cakes hold together. At least not with lump crab meat.

I believe this will be my go-do technique in the future.

Creole and Cajun seasoning is a marketing term. Cajun/Creole cooks mix up their spice mixes to suit the dish. When you examine them as a class, however, you find that the same ingredients are used over and over again. What varies is the amount of each ingredient, and minor additions or substractions, depending on the flavor profile wanted.

In “Cajun and Creole Cooking,” by Edie Hand and Col. William G. Paul, for instance, almost all the recipes are accompanied by a suggested seasoning mix. What we see, over and over, are things like thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and white pepper.

After trying various combos, we settled on one mix to use regularly. Here it is:

2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder (I use granules)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
¼ tsp cayenne

Don’t be afraid of the cayenne. The amount is just right for Friend Wife, and, presumably, the Beautiful Mrs Tas. For a spicier mix, double the amount of the peppers.

I grind all the herbs, then mix them with the spices, to create a powder. Stored in an air-tight container, out of the light, the mix seemingly lasts two days longer than forever.

For comparison sake, Tony Chatchere lists salt as the first ingredient (which means there is more of that than other things) along with, in sequence, red, black, and white chilies, silicon dioxide, plus some other things I can’t translate from the Spanish.

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And sae the Lord be thanket
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 October 2017 at 11:44
Sounds good ~ I'll try to make this soon. It fits in with a lot of my goals and also my desire to learn the cuisine from there a little better.

Thanks, Brook!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 October 2017 at 14:29
For another take on combining those ingredients, here is the recipe for Emerald's Essence---ya know, the stuff he Bams! on just about everything.

For better comparison, I've converted it from the tablespoon measurements given in his recipe to teaspoons:

8 tsp paprika
3 tsp cayenne
5 tsp black pepper
6 tsp garlic powder
3 tsp onion powder
6 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp oregano
2 1/2 tsp thyme

You can see right off how much higher both the salt and heat content is, compared to the one posted above. Proportionately, this is more akin to the Tony Chatchere's, except Chatchere's doesn't include the herbs and aromatics. In short, it's is simply salt & heat.
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