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Crab and Vegetable Soup

Jan 27, 2015 03:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Pusser’s Caribbean Grille
80 Compromise Street, Annapolis
410-626-0004 • pussersusa.com

By Kimberly Cooper • Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

For Chef Jim Eriksen, executive chef at Pusser’s Caribbean Grille in Annapolis, cooking wasn’t necessarily his dream career at the start. Eriksen is a working man, using his hands whenever possible. Cooking and creating was something he always enjoyed but it wasn’t until some talented chefs opened his eyes to the culinary world that he discovered his real passion. He shares with us his views on food, his sources of inspiration, and his recipe for crab and vegetable soup.

How did you get started as a chef?

I was a short order cook in high school, just to make money. I was good at it and was promoted many times in the two years I worked, but I never thought it would be a career. After I finished school, I worked as a landscape construction foreman, but growing up in Ohio, there wasn’t much work in the winter, so I would go back to being a short order cook for a couple of months. It wasn’t until I started working at a country club, one winter, that I discovered the culinary world. I worked for two very talented chefs who taught me how to apply my “hands on” talent to the field. I became a sponge, soaking up all information I could from every chef I worked with. I would work at different hotels and clubs just learn more and moved up the ladder at the same time. I was offered my first executive chef job when I was 23 years old. I jumped on the opportunity and moved to the food Mecca of Knoxville, Tennessee, where I quickly had to learn the business side of being a chef, making labor cost, making food cost, in general being profitable. Making menus and designing recipes has always been easy for me, learning how to be an effective administrator took a little more effort. Ever since I became a chef, it’s been the only thing I wanted to do.

Where do you get inspiration for new dishes?

I like to surf the Internet, read magazine articles, and look at things other restaurants are doing and see if I can change them into something I would want to do. I also look at seasonal items and my purveyor’s specials and turn them into menu ideas. Lately I have been looking at more vintage items and bringing them back with a twist. Things like boneless short ribs of beef with malted barley pilaf or pot pies made with asparagus and puff pastry cap.

How often do you change the menu at Pusser’s?

Twice a year. We also have as many as eight daily specials; this is where we try out new items to see if they will work on our regular menu.

What do you find to be more important: local or organic ingredients?

Although both are important I lean more toward local. I appreciate the support of our local patrons so I think it is important do the same. It’s not always possible to get all local all the time but it’s a nice point when you can say local this or that. It’s a little more difficult to say farm-to-table here in Maryland versus, let’s say, California, but when you open our bordering states, it makes it a little easier, especially in the summer.

What is the most important step when cooking this recipe?

Take the time to make crab stock or at least buy the crab base. If you get the crab base be careful with the salt.

Directions:

2 cups of each: 3/8 inch dice of carrots, celery, onions, mixed green and red peppers, and cut white corn (use frozen out of season)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup green beans cut one inch long
  • 6 cups strong crab stock
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced
  • plum tomatoes (or 14. oz. can)
  • 2 each 5.5 oz. cans of “V8” juice
  • 1 Tbsp course black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
Sweat all vegetables (except corn and peas) in the butter until most moisture is gone. Add flour and cook roux until smooth. Add stock, juice, and tomatoes; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer cooking roux out. Add spices and horseradish. Cook for about five minutes. Add frozen vegetables. Return to a boil and stir in crabmeat. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

Chef’s Notes: I like to make the base the day before and let the flavors meld together, reheat, and then add the crabmeat.

Crab stock in the winter time can be difficult. Substituting clam juice works, but doesn’t taste as good. The best substitute is to go online and buy crab stock concentrate or crab base. Be careful with these items as they tend to be salty.
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