Crab Soufflé

I know what you're thinking: this is gonna be some kind of weird knock-off of a soufflé made with canned soup and Velveeta. But you are wrong.

There are things we all have irrational cooking fears about: my mom was terrified to make lasagne until she was well into her 30s, I was nervous about making crepes until my 29th year when I learned how easy they were, mussels always alarmed me until my dear husband bought me an entire cookbook of Italian seafood recipes, and Judson always had a phobia of making crackers until I convinced him to do it for a New Year's Eve party one year... but those are all irrational fears, because, eventually, we made the dishes in question and learned that they were insanely easy (crackers literally only have two ingredients!).

On the other end of the spectrum are the rational cooking fears: things like soufflés, molecular gastronomy, crème brulée, and anything with foam go on this list. It's not often that I attempt things from this list. Don't get me wrong, I make complicated recipes in my non-blog life (and occasionally in my blog life), but I tend more toward long and arduous recipes with lots of ingredients rather than recipes that require specific techniques. (That's probably a failing on my part.) As it turns out, though, Eleanor's cooking style must have mirrored mine-- at least somewhat-- because most of her recipes, even the difficult ones, are only difficult because of how many ingredients they have-- not because of the techniques required.

Which is why I was as surprised as you were when I found the recipe for this soufflé in the box-- and I was anticipating a massive failure. I've only made a soufflé once (and as such, I remain the youngest/only person I know who has ever made one), but it was under the tutelage of an elderly French woman and so it wasn't exactly a solo venture. This one, though, I attempted on my own and it still came out a total win (though, alas, not particularly beautiful).

Cheese + Milk=Together forever.

Cheese + Milk=Together forever.

The texture gets ickier after adding the yolks, but it'll be worth it!

The texture gets ickier after adding the yolks, but it'll be worth it!

If you've never had a soufflé, might I encourage you to try this one? If you don't like seafood, you can just leave out the crab for a ragingly awesome cheese soufflé that would be perfect for lunch or even weekend brunch. The crab, though, is easy to get since you can use canned crabmeat, and it's also less expensive than using fresh would be. (Though seriously, if you made this with lump crabmeat, I might just invite myself over for dinner because yum.) This is the kind of recipe to make when you've got company coming. It's easy, delicious, cheap, and everyone will be so impressed. You'll be The Girl (or Guy) Who Makes Soufflés. No one has to know that it uses two canned ingredients and the recipe came off a blog that nabbed it from the 1959 edition of Kraft Cookery. If there's one recipe in this box that proves some things are just timeless, it's this one.

Some technique advice (not that you need it):

  • Whip 'em. (Whip 'em good). Those egg whites are what's going to make this a soufflé and not just a quiche, so whip them until they are super stiff. (Like, when you pull your beater out, they should stand straight up and be nice and shiny. Not foamy, and not slumped over like waves at the beach).
  • This would be amaaaaazing with a tiny sprinkle of chili powder for heat, or nutmeg for spice. Or even some dried dill to make it more like a crabcake.
  • As written below, this makes 2 main-course sized portions or 3 petite side dishes. Easily doubles to feed 4-6, but then you'll need a standard loaf pan instead of the silly wee one I used. As with any soufflé, it's best eaten fresh, so scale according to your needs.

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five.Even Judson, who doesn't dislike seafood but would never go out of his way to eat it, loved this. It's super easy, even on a weeknight, and you don't need any special equipment. An electric mixer is super helpful for beating those egg whites, but not technically necessary. This is as close to a foolproof recipe as I've come across in the box (except for the 3-ingredient bread recipe, because come on).

The recipe:

Crab Soufflé

the directions:

Preheat oven to 160C/325F.
Heat evaporated milk over very low heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pot.
Add cheese, salt, pepper, and any other herbs and stir until melted and smooth. (Try not to dig in at this point.)
Allow to cool to lukewarm.
While cooling, beat the egg whites until very stiff and glossy, then set aside.
After cheese mixture has cooled, stir in egg yolks, one at a time, stirring until smooth.
Fold egg whites into cheese mixture with a spatula, using spatula to 'turn' mixture very gently.
Mixture should not be smooth, but egg white should be thoroughly blended into batter.
Place crabmeat in bottom of loaf pan.
Gently top with cheese mixture and smooth the top with spatula.
Bake for 35-45 minutes until risen and brown and crisp on top.

Serves 2 as a main course, or 3, petitely.

the ingredients:

¼ c evaporated milk
½ c sharp cheddar cheese, grated
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 eggs, separated, both parts reserved
1 c crabmeat