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Gertie's Crab Cakes

Renowned Baltimore chef John Shields shares a cherished family recipe

"Gertie" was John's grandmother Gertrude Cleary, for whom his restaurant is named. This is her old-style family recipe. It was a favorite at the parish church-hall fundraisers back in her day, and it remains a top-selling favorite with patrons at Gertrude's.

Reprinted with permission from Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields.

Serves 4


1 egg

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Dash of Tabasco sauce

1 pound backfin crabmeat, picked over

1/3 cup saltine cracker crumbs

Vegetable oil, for frying (optional)

Olive oil, for sautéing (optional)

Tartar sauce and lemon wedges for accompaniment


1. Mix the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco together in a blender or mixing bowl until frothy.

2. Place the crabmeat in a bowl and sprinkle it with the cracker crumbs.

3. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Gently toss or fold the ingredients together, taking care not to break up any lumps of crab.

4. Form the cakes by hand (or with an ice-cream scoop) into 8 mounds, each about 3 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick. Do not pack the mixture too firmly; the cakes should be as loose as possible, yet still hold their shape.

5. Place the cakes on a tray or platter lined with wax paper, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.


1. Pour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil into a heavy skillet.

2. Heat the oil and fry the cakes until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side.

3. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Nutrients per serving (2 cakes): 343 calories, 27g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 24g fat, 143mg cholesterol, 816mg sodium.


1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and sauté the cakes, turning several times, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total on each side.

Nutrients per serving (2 cakes): 312 calories, 27g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 21g fat, 143mg cholesterol, 816mg sodium.


1. Lay cakes out on a broiler pan sprayed with cooking spray.

2. Slip the cakes under a preheated broiler until nicely browned, turning to cook evenly, 4 or 5 minutes on each side.

Nutrients per serving (2 cakes): 281 calories, 27g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 17g fat, 143mg cholesterol, 816mg sodium.

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