Crabbies Update (Kraft Old English Cheese Replacement)
My family loves crabbies. Basically a mixture of Old English cheese spread, canned crab meat, butter, mayo and Old Bay baked on to english muffins. They are addictive: crunchy, chewy, cheesy, crabby, fatty, salty little bites.
However, it's time for an update. They come off very 50's and I'm over the processed food as an ingredient thing. I'm trying to make a nicer version of crabbies that will be just as tasty, but made from scratch and elegant enough to serve at a dinner party. I'm switching out the english muffins for slices of baguette, using nicer lump crab meat, and adding parsley and chives. I'll keep the mayo, butter and Old Bay.
Here's the sticking point: The Kraft Old English Cheese. I'm not sure what to replace it with. It is supposed cheddar flavored, but in reality it mostly adds dairy fat, salt, and a little cheesiness which seem important. I'm afraid to replace it with straight up cheddar, because I think a nice cheddar would overpower the crab and might change the texture of the topping. I'm thinking of replacing it with some finely grated cheddar and some cream cheese to balance. Does this sound like it would work? Does anyone have any other ideas?
Thanks for you help!
Cream cheese, being too sweet for me brings to mind what I saw on The Best Thing I Ever Ate (I think) that Bon Ton in NO (I think) used American Cheese for its famous crab meat au gratin. The said it was the right consistency to melt and right taste not to cover up crab's taste. How about mixing some grated cheddar with American to the cheesiness and cheddariness you desire?
what if you were to gently melt the cream cheese and the grated cheddar together? That might give you the cheesy/creamy consistency without having little gobs of melted cheese.
I don't remember what the OE tastes like on its own, so I don't recall what the flavor profile was supposed to be.
ETA: I remembered I had copied this recipe for port wine cheese spread for a friend -- here are the ingredients:
1/2 cup port wine
1/4 cup butter, melted
16 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
So you might want to try sour cream and butter for your dairy and fat, too.....
I have to confess to having used Cheese Whiz during a period of budgetary constraints when I was in college -- it worked fine, although the flavor was somewhat different. (I used surimi because I couldn't afford crab meat, either -- and the other budget-constrained students thought it was manna of the gods...It wasn't as good as real crab, but it wasn't terrible!)
This is a favorite appetizer in our house (we kind of like the retro feel of it, but understand wanting to step away from the Old English). In a pinch we have used a mix if creamcheese and grated parmesan. This will make it taste different than the standard but still very very good.