The boys wanted turkey for Christmas Eve, so on December 24, 2000, I cooked a traditional turkey dinner. I usually barbecued our turkey to free up oven space, but that year I decided to try smoking it. I purchased a Brinkman smoker and a 22-lb. bird to put in it.
I awoke at the crack of dawn to fire up the smoker allowing 10 hours for the turkey to cook. It was 28 degrees that day but I ventured outside every hour to add briquettes and wood chips.
Besides turkey and the customary side dishes, I was inspired by a Martha Stewart magazine recipe to make crab cakes which I’d never attempted before.
At 5 p.m. the turkey was dark brown and the skin was crispy. I carried it into the kitchen to let it “rest” while I fried the crab cakes, mashed the potatoes and made gravy.
Family and guests were seated at the table when I ceremoniously sliced into a turkey so raw inside that bright red blood flowed onto the cutting board.
Crab cakes were suddenly elevated to main course status! Crab cakes and mashed potatoes. Crab cakes and yams. Crab cakes and stuffing. My sons teased, “Mom, are we having crab cakes with pumpkin pie and whipped cream?”
We didn’t know it then, but that would be our last Christmas together in our Grants Pass home. In May I moved to the coast to begin my career here. Every Christmas Eve dinner since has included crab cakes—my family wouldn’t have it any other way.
I took what I liked from several recipes to come up with my favorite. We don’t wait for a holiday to enjoy crab cakes. When Rick and I have crab we eat legs for dinner and save the “body” for crab cakes the following night.