Velvety Crab and Cheese Soufflé
Velveeta was a kitchen staple in the Fifties, especially good in hot dishes where its disinclination to curdle was very much appreciated. In making this sturdy and surprisingly good soufflé the Fifties homemaker might very well have used a can of Sardi’s Jiffy Sauce, rather than go to all the trouble of making her own béchamel.
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk, hot but not boiled
¼ teaspoon salt
Pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups grated Velveeta cheese
4 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups crabmeat (about 1 ½ pounds), picked over for cartilage
6 slices canned pineapple, drained
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Melt ¼ cup of the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir the flour into the butter and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until well blended and frothy, about 3 minutes. Take the saucepan off the burner and gradually stir in the hot milk, stirring vigorously to prevent lumping. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth, thick, and hot. Season with the salt and a pinch of pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese all at once. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored in a large bowl. Slowly pour the cheese mixture into the egg yolks, stirring vigorously. Stir in the crabmeat. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently spread the cheese mixture over the egg whites and fold in until blended (a few lumps of egg white here and there are okay). Pour into a buttered 6-cup soufflé dish. Place in a pan filled with hot water that comes halfway up the sides of the soufflé dish and bake until browned and a knife inserted gently near the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. While the soufflé is cooking, melt the remaining butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the pineapple slices and sauté on both sides until golden brown. To serve, place a pineapple slice on each plate and top with a serving of the soufflé.
Makes 6 servings