TIME CRUNCH CHEF: CRABCAKE BAY-NEDICT
By Patrick Evans-Hylton
There’s convenience food and food that’s convenient. And, being pressed for time is understandable at Valentine's Day, because of course you want to spend the most time you can with your lovey-dovey, which makes this dish all the more relevant now. With a store full of quality, chef-prepared dishes, award-winning specialty food products, amazing beers and wine, and more, one of TASTE’s seven (soon to be eight) locations is the place for food that’s convenient.
Once a month we’ll highlight delicious dishes you can make when you are on a time crunch, simply by stopping by TASTE, grabbing some items, and preparing a meal with other ingredients you probably already have at home. We call it Time Crunch Chef; you’ll call it fabulous.
In 1894, Charles Ranhofer, a former chef for the famed Delmonico’s restaurant in New York, published a recipe for Eggs a la Benedick, a forerunner of the classic breakfast and brunch dish we love today.
Traditionally two halves of a toasted English muffin topped with Canadian bacon, poached egg and hollandaise sauce, we take a few liberties and create our own quick-and-easy version that showcases one of the Chesapeake Bay region’s incredible edibles, the crabcake.
At TASTE, we grabbed: four crabcakes, prepared fresh in Executive Chef Thomas Yager’s kitchen; a bag of bread ends (ends of baguettes used in sandwich making; you could also grab a whole baguette); The Bull Hot Sauce from The Flavors of Ernest Hemingway collection; and Natural Pickled Pink Sweet Gourmet Pickles. To pair with the dish, we opted for a bottle of Las Lilas Vinho Verde, which I put in the refrigerator to chill as soon as I got home.
At home, we had eggs, Greek yogurt, cheese, olive oil and butter already in our pantry. We also had some small new potatoes that we decided to pan fry and simply season with salt and pepper as a side dish.
First we made a creamy, spicy sauce to replace the traditional hollandaise by simply adding equal parts The Bull Hot Sauce and Greek yogurt, stirring to completely combine, and putting in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Second we trimmed the baguette ends a bit, brushed on some melted butter on a grill pan, and toasted both sides of the bread until golden brown and grill marks were produced. We sat these - which replace the English muffin - aside.
Third we washed, dried and roughly cubed the potatoes, poured enough olive oil in a medium sauté pan to slightly coat the bottom, and, over medium-high heat, began to pan fry them. The potatoes are ready once they are fork-tender and golden brown; we then remove them from the heat and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. We will serve them with just a bit of shredded cheese on top.
Fourth, as the potatoes were cooking, we poured just a bit of olive oil in another medium sauté pan and added the crabcakes, which take the place of Canadian bacon. The crabcakes are already cooked, so we are just reheating them over medium heat at this point, and getting a nice crispy crust to form on both sides. It took less than 10 minutes.
Fifth, as the potatoes and crabcakes were finishing up, I fried eggs in another medium sauté pan with a bit of added olive oil. For speed and ease, I chose to fry them, over medium-low heat, sunny-side up, rather than poach. The eggs, with firm whites and a loose yolk, took less than five minutes.
Sixth, I assembled the dish by placing two pieces of the toasted baguette on a plate, adding two thin slices of cheese (I picked a Colby-Jack) and the crabcakes on top of that. I then added the eggs, drizzled on some sauce, and sprinkled on some finely minced parsley. The dish was served with the potatoes on the side, and a few of the pickles as a relish. We enjoyed the brunch with the vinho verde.
It turned out to be a delicious mix of flavors, and a pleasing contrast of textures. The bright pop of the wine cut the rich and creamy dish, as well as the heat in the sauce. Better still, the whole meal took less than 20 minutes to prepare.
I’ve still got plenty of hot sauce and pickles left, too, to use in future Time Crunch Chef meals. But that’s all that’s left, as the result was that every other bit of food was eaten by myself and my dining partner.
Patrick Evans-Hylton is TASTE’s resident foodie, hosting a number of delicious events throughout the year. The Johnson & Wales-trained chef and wine and cheese expert is an award-winning food journalist, covering tasty trends since 1995 in print, broadcast and electronic media. He is publisher of Virginia Eats + Drinks Magazine; subscribe free at www.facebook.com/VirginiaEatsDrinksMag.