The smoke in these burgers emanates from two sources: (1) wood chips and (2) hickory-smoked bacon strips that are tied around each crab cake like a ribbon. Make sure the wood chips go on a good 5 minutes before you put the burgers on the grill. Crab burgers cook so quickly that they will not absorb much smoky flavor unless the smoke is billowing vigorously before they come into contact with it. The recipe calls for back-fin crab, which isn’t as impressive (or as expensive) as lump crab but will hold together on the grill much better than the high-priced stuff.
Soak wood chips: 1 hour
Prep: 10 minutes (plus 10 minutes for rub and dip)
Grill: 8 to 10 minutes.
GRILL TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
• 2 cups hardwood wood chips
• Smoker box or foil packet, if using a gas grill
• Clean grill screen
• Long-handled spatula.
Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (425° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 to 4 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 2 inches above the fire.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 4 SERVINGS)
2 scallions, roots trimmed, thinly sliced
½ roasted red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend, Old Bay seasoning, or Cajun Blackening Rub (page 373)
1 pound canned back-fin crabmeat
4 slices center-cut hickory-smoked bacon, cut in half lengthwise
Oil for coating grill screen
¼ cup Harissa Dip (page 396) or Lime-Cilantro Butter (optional).
1. Soak the wood chips in hot water in a medium bowl for at least 1 hour; heat the grill as directed. Drain the wood chips.
2. Mix the scallions, bell pepper, garlic, onion, mayonnaise, spice blend, and crabmeat in a bowl until well blended. Using a light torch, form into 4 patties about 1¼ inches thick, and wrap 2 strips of bacon around each burger so that the burgers look as though they have been tied with ribbons.
3. Put the soaked wood chips on the hot coals, or set them in a smoker box of foil if using a gas grill. Put the grill grate back in place and top with the grill screen. Coat the screen with oil, cover the grill, and wait for about 5 minutes, until the smoke is plentiful.
4. Put the burgers on the grill screen, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the bacon and burgers are browned but still soft in the center.
5. Serve with Harissa Dip or cilantro butter, if desired.