RECIPE // Cape Fear Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

The recipe that draws over two hundred and fifty people to our Christmas party every year

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It’s only April so I’m not going to bore you with details of our Christmas party. But the quick story is that thirty years ago when my husband and I were first married we threw a holiday party for our friends (all 40 of them) and I cooked all of the food. Over the years, our list of friends has grown and now our children (and a lot of their friends) come to the party. In fact, it’s probably the biggest party of the year for our 26, 24 and 23-year-old sons. Go figure.

As the crowd has grown to about 250, the menu has expanded to about 17 heavy appetizers and seven desserts. Somehow after all of these years, I still cook the food. But I do have help! My amazing girlfriends come over and help on Thursday and Friday before the party and we hire bartenders and a staff that actually cook all of the food I have prepared. This allows yours truly to enjoy the party. Well, kind of.
My menu has evolved over the years. Yet there are a few recipes that have and will always be a part of our party. (Because if I took them off I think some of our friends would turn around and go home.) The most popular recipe of all? My crab cake recipe. I found the recipe in a “best of junior league” cookbook. It’s fairly simple and the Lemon Dill Sauce is the best (and is also really good on grilled salmon).

I honestly have friends that stand in the kitchen waiting for these crab cakes to come out of the pan …

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Cape Fear Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

I N G R E D I E N T S

C R A B    C A K E S

3 TBL butter
1 scallion, chopped fine
1 glove garlic, minced
2 TBL red bell pepper, chopped fine
Ground red pepper (cayenne) to taste
3 TBL heavy cream
1 TBL dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp minced fresh basil
1 tsp minced fresh parsley
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 TBL vegetable oil

L E M O N    D I L L    S A U C E
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 TBL fresh dill chopped
1 TBL minced fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 TBL grated lemon peel
1 clove garlic, minced


D I R E C T I O N S
My recipe makes 450 crab cakes for our party so I pared it down a bit …

  • Lightly chop the crab meat in the food processor and set aside. Melt one TBL of the butter in a large skillet and saute the scallion, garlic and red bell pepper until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the ground red pepper, cream and mustard. Cool slightly. Add the egg, basil, parsley, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs and the crabmeat. Mix lightly. Mold into 25 one-inch wide patties.
  • Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and the parmesan cheese in a shallow dish. Roll the patties in the crumb and cheese mixture. Chill for at least one hour. (The crab cakes can be made one day prior and refrigerated, covered, up to this point.)
  • Combine the oil and the remaining 2 TBL of butter over moderate heat in a large skillet. Saute the crab cakes 3 minutes on each side. Serve with the Lemon Dill Sauce.
  • Lemon Dill Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill until the mixture thickens.

N O T E : The lemon dill sauce in this recipe is also really great with smoked salmon. I serve the sauce (with crackers) all of the time.

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2 thoughts on “RECIPE // Cape Fear Crab Cakes with Lemon Dill Sauce

  1. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing the recipe!!!!! You made these for us at one of your workshops and they are divine!

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