It is the height of the season. Ketchum and Sun Valley are overflowing with people and you are hungry for a full-of-flavor, satisfying lunch. But you want something different, something new. A trip out to the Elkhorn Clubhouse, located just minutes south of the Sun Valley Resort (right on the back side of Dollar Mountain) is exactly what you’re looking for. There, Chef Chad K. Woodland offers a menu that will appeal to everyone in your party in an atmosphere that feels like you have gotten away from it all.
The chef believes that the ingredients in a dish should speak for themselves; that if you’re camouflaging flavors, you might want to rethink what you are serving. From a long list of hearty appetizers including lamb sliders, garlic and ginger chicken wings and sweet chili shrimp; salads like the popular and hearty taco salad and a salmon Caesar; and lots of inventive sandwiches, it is hard to decide what to order. Signature cocktails run to the classics like a Singapore Sling or Manhattan, with a large selection of wines by the glass rounding out the recipe for a relaxing afternoon.
Once you have chosen what you would like to eat for lunch or an early dinner, all you need to do is decide where to sit. The large patio is probably the most popular choice on a summer’s day. Offering expansive views of the pristine Elkhorn Golf Course, the patio is a peaceful oasis far from the madding downtown summer crowd. Indoors is lovely, too, with a spacious bar, cozy banquettes, and an almost Arts-and-Crafts, northwestern feel – different than anything else in Sun Valley. The restaurant is open to the public, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
One of the favorite items Chef Woodland serves is his special crab cakes. Now, preparing crab cakes can be a little tricky. Those that are run-of-the-mill are dense and soggy with fillers, over-fried and short on that key ingredient: fresh crab. But when crab cakes are good, they are really good, and the crab cake appetizer Chef Woodland serves daily is really, really good. Loaded with fresh Dungeness crab and herbs, the chef lets the flavorful shellfish shine. A transplant to Sun Valley from the Seattle area, Chad has a soft spot for fresh seafood and knows how to honor its intrinsic goodness.
If the lure of your own patio or kitchen proves overwhelming, though, as part of our Recipes from the Resort series, Chef Woodland shares his recipe for these crab cakes with readers of the Valley Sun.
Chef Chad K. Woodland’s Crab Cakes
For the crab cake:
1 lb. Dungeness crab meat
Enough mayonnaise to bind the meat
Clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil
For the red pepper coulis and chive oil:
1 tsp. fresh chives
1 tbsp. fresh basil
Roasted red peppers from a jar or can
For the basil aioli:
4 egg yolks
6 large basil leaves
1 tsp. of tarragon vinegar or white wine vinegar
A pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Blend roasted red peppers with sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, creating a coulis that is poured carefully into the center of a shallow plate.
Blend extra virgin olive oil with finely chopped fresh chives.
Strain the fibers.
Pour the chive oil carefully around the red pepper coulis.
For the crab cakes:
Take approximately one pound of Dungeness crab meat and combine it with the chives and a chiffonade (long thin strips) of basil using your hands.
Form the crab meat into a patty by hand or use a round form if you have one.
Using a brush, coat each side of the crab cake with egg yolk.
Bread each cake lightly with the Panko breadcrumbs.
Heat clarified butter or extra virgin olive oil in a skillet.
Brown both sides of the crab cakes.
Finish the crab cakes in a 350-degree oven for about five minutes.
Place crab cake in the center of the red pepper coulis.
For the basil aioli:
Combine egg yolks, vinegar and basil leaves in a blender.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil.
Dollop the basil aioli onto the crab cake and serve.
But better yet, let the pros do the cooking! Parking is plentiful, the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming and the food is fantastic at the Elkhorn Clubhouse. Come on by. Chances are you’ll want to stay the whole afternoon, watching the golfers work on their game as the sun begins to slowly set over the hills.
Be sure to mark your calendar for upcoming special events, too, including a winemakers’ dinner and a beer dinner. The beer dinner is scheduled for August 31 and will feature specialty kegs from Boston’s Samuel Adams Brewery. Chef Woodland will pair the beer with delicious complimentary dishes. The winemakers’ dinner will feature organic Idaho winery Holeinsky and will take place on September 27. This dinner features a five-course gourmet meal paired with wonderful vintages.
Come catch a break from your busy summer and enjoy a flavorful meal with a great view at the Elkhorn Clubhouse. It is worth a trip off the well-trodden path!