In a very large stockpot, bring about 6 quarts water to a boil. Plunge the crabs headfirst into the water, and cook for 12 minutes from the time the water returns to the boil. Remove the crabs with tongs and set aside. When cool, remove the triangular belly flap on the underside and discard. Turn crab over and starting from rear of crab, pull firmly to lift off top shell, and discard. Pull off and discard the spongy fingers from the body and the tiny paddles from the front. Scoop out the orange crab butter and, if desired, reserve for another use. Cut the body into quarters and pick the crabmeat from inside, using a small fork or a metal pick, and reserve. Twist the claws and legs off of the body. Crack the claws and legs along the edges of the shells, using a heavy nutcracker or a small hammer. Pick the crabmeat from the claws and legs, and reserve.
Try to keep the crabmeat in fairly large chunks, but make sure you get all of it.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the sour cream, diced poblano and yellow peppers, celery, salt, and pepper. Toss together until well mixed. Add the crab, shredding it into approximately 3/4 inch chunks, and the bread crumbs. Mix together gently but thoroughly.
Divide the mixture into 12 cakes, shaping them into patties about 3/4 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Refrigerate them on a large plate, loosely covered, for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a large heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium high heat. Saute 6 crab cakes at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, being very careful when you turn them so that they do not fall apart. They should be golden brown on each side. Place the cooked crab cakes on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while you add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and saute the other six crab cakes in the same way.
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved
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