The Chef: Justin Pop shares recipe for his famous Crab Cakes

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The Chefs column highlights local culinary masters. The chefs share a recipe that has a lot of meaning to them and thankfully, how to make it. (Well, at least most of it, sometimes secrets must remain that.)

This month’s chef is Senoia Coffee & Cafe’s Chef Justin Pop.

Chef Justin’s story … I began my culinary career in 2012 when I enrolled in Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, Georgia. Upon completion of the program I was given the opportunity to intern with Callaway Gardens.

At the young age of 20, I was cooking in four resort restaurants, in addition to serving as the sous chef at The Garden’s Restaurant. From Callaway, I was given the opportunity to serve as the head chef at a local country club. While there, a colleague connected me with Brent and April Anderson of Senoia Coffee & Cafe during their search for a new head chef. Although, the cafe was sure to be different from the corporate restaurant market I was accustomed to, it has been the perfect outlet for me to express my culinary creativity. I do this regularly through day-to-day operations, weekly dinner specials and event catering.

If I can serve you in any way, contact me at [email protected].

Chef Justin’s Famous Crab Cakes with cherry reduction 
(large batch recipe makes 25-30 cakes)

Crab Cakes
1/2 Cup Mayo
4 cans of blue crab claw meat
2 cups Italian seasoning
7 oz roasted red peppers
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
1 tsp fresh garlic
1 lemon juiced
olive oil for frying

Cherry Reduction
1 12oz bag of frozen cherries
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl combine mayo, egg, red peppers and lemon juice and stir until mixed. Add in crab meat (leave in larger pieces), garlic and bread crumbs until the mixture easily forms a ball. Fatten ball into a patty.

Heat oil in a large skillet, add crab cakes and sear until golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet, drain on paper towel and put them on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

While cakes are baking put cherries, sugar and vanilla in sauce pan bring to a boil, reduce heat and let cook until thick and bubbly about 10-15 min. Remove from heat, let cherry mixture cool slightly, spoon one large spoonful of cherries onto plate, place two crab cakes over mixture and serve with your favorite veggie.

Chef Justin Pop

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