Photo by Andrew Sherman

Many Savannahians would rather serve something they’ve made a thousand times and know to be good, well-prepared, and in ample quantities, than knock themselves out over a showy display of cutting-edge dainties.

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Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a first course, 10−12 as a cocktail hors d’oeuvres

  • 1 pound crab meat, preferably claw meat
  • ½ cup minced green onions (about 4, including both white and green parts)
  • 2 tablespoons minced white celery (about 1 stalk from the heart of the head)
  • 2−3 tablespoons nonpareil capers, drained
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2−3 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably homemade
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 6−8 small basil leaves
  1. Pick through the crab for bits of shell and cartilage. Put meat in a glass bowl, add the onion, celery, and 2 tablespoons capers. Gently toss until evenly mixed.
  2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one of the halves over the crab. Add 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise and a pinch of cayenne. Toss gently until the mayonnaise is very lightly coating the crab. It should still be loose and crumbly, but if it’s too dry, add just enough to make a very light coating but no more than a tablespoon. Taste for lemon juice, cayenne, capers, and salt, adding more of each as needed. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve, at least 1 hour. It can be made as much as 6 hours ahead.
  3. Just before serving, tear the basil leaves into very small pieces and add them to the salad. Toss gently and taste one last time, adjusting the cayenne and salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
  • from chef and author Damon Lee Fowler, Savannah, Georgia
    Essentials of Southern Cooking of Lyons Press, December 2013

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