Even though I grew up on a farm in Vermont, my parents—who both grew up near the Chesapeake Bay outside of Baltimore—passed on a love of all things related to the blue crab. So the Sparks family loves crab boils, soft shells in season, and, most of all, these crab cakes, based on a recipe my grandmother passed along to my mother and then to me.
Crabs are a celebratory food for us: I know it's not inexpensive to get jumbo lump blue crab. So crab cakes are one of those things that we have only a couple of times a year, but they’re just delicious and perfect. Make the cakes with the best crabmeat you can find and don't try and stretch the crab with a lot of binder. My mother was always adamant that authentic crab cakes never have things like onion or bell peppers in them. These are not restaurant crab cakes; these are for people who just want a lot of crabmeat.
In a large bowl, gently combine the crabmeat, diced bread, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, mayonnaise, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and eggs with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Try not to break up the big lumps of crabmeat; big chunks are so much more satisfying to eat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest for several hours in the refrigerator; this allows the bread to soak up the moisture from the crab so the cakes won’t fall apart in the pan.
Cover and refrigerate the cakes for at least 1/2 hour to set; this also helps them hold together in the pan.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt a generous amount of butter.
Once the butter has melted, add the cakes, in batches if necessary (don’t crowd the pan).
Cook the cakes, gently turning once, with a slotted turner, until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side for large cakes, 1 1/2 minutes per side for smaller ones.
For extra richness, baste the cakes with butter from the pan while cooking. Garnish with parsley and serve with wedges of lemon.