While many people think the peak of summer is the best for picking crabs, Maryland natives know better. It’s these late summer, early fall months that present the fattest, fullest of the Chesapeake’s favorite treasures. And nestled along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Talbot County is home to some of the most prime pickin’ spots.
For an authentic brown-paper lined, Old Bay-topped crab feast, head to a local crab house, grab a mallet, and pull up a chair. Harrison’s Chesapeake on Tilghman Island; Chesapeake Landing, The Crab Claw, and St. Michaels Crab and Steakhouse in St. Michaels; The Masthead in Oxford; and Sidetracked Seafood in Easton are worth the trek for dinner—and are even more fun if you can book a B&B and stay for the night.
If you’d prefer the backyard version—your backyard, or yours for the night—steam your own, or carry out from a local market, like Gay’s Seafood or The Crab Shack in Easton; Chesapeake Landing in St. Michaels; and Tuckahoe Seafood in Cordova.
And when you’ve picked, literally, more than you can chew, take a cue from author James Michener, who spent nearly two years in the '70s soaking up the life and culture on Maryland’s Eastern Shore while writing the book Chesapeake.
During his research, he discovered his love for the crab cake, and sought out the perfect one--he says he found it at the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford. The recipe has changed with ownership over the years, but we suspect that Michener would love chef-owner Mark Salter's current one just as much—and maybe more.
So pick away, save the rest, and on day two of your crab feast, use your leftovers to whip up the best crab cake in town. Bon appetit!
Salter’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes
- 1 lb. jumbo lump crab meat
- 1/3 c. heavy duty mayonnaise
- 1 ½ tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 2 ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. chopped tarragon
- 1 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- Zest from half a lemon
- 1 egg
- 1/8 c. + 2 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
- ¼ c. panko breadcrumbs to dip finished crab cakes
Mix together mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, tarragon, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg. Fold in crab meat and bread crumbs and let rest for 1 hour before shaping into 5 1/2 ounce cakes. Dip shaped crab cake in panko bread crumbs on both sides. Sauté in olive oil and finish in a preheated oven 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes. Serves 4.