Crab Cobbler – A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Feb 19 2014 - 4:33am by RetroRuth

Who would like a nice, steaming bowl of cobbler?

Crab cobbler, that is!


I was actually excited to test this one out, because it had been a winner in the Pillsbury 5th Grand National. But Crab Cobbler sounded so strange to me. Not just the ingredients, but also the preparation, which called for making the entire filling over a double boiler.


1.0 from 1 reviews
Crab Cobbler
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup chopped green pepper
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup sifted flour
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp Accent (I omitted this)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded American cheese
  • 1 cup (6½ oz can) crabmeat
  • 1½ cups canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Cheese Biscuit Topping
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup shredded American cheese
  • 2 Tbls shortening
  • ½ cup milk
  1. Melt butter in top of double boilder. Add green pepper and onion. Cook over boiling water until tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Blend in flour, mustard, milk and shredded cheese. Cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and very thick.
  3. Add in crabmeat, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Blend thoroughly. Pour into two quart casserole.
  4. Sift together biscuit flour, baking powder and salt. Add in shredded cheese and cut in shortening. Add milk, and mix only until flour is moistened.
  5. Drop biscuits by rounded teaspoonfuls on top of hot crabmeat mixture.
  6. Bake in hot oven (450 degrees) for 20 to 25 minutes.


And now we get to the “good” part. This casserole contains TWO things that Tom absolutely hates: American cheese and hot tomatoes in a casserole. Pretty much as soon as I saw that, I knew this had to be on our “To Make” list.


Cooking over the double boiler!


Cooking was interesting and turned out pretty well. It was slow, but the sauce came together well. At this point, it was VERY thick but also smooth and creamy.

It also smelled terrible.


I stirred in the tomatoes and the crab, but it really smelled bad.


Then Tom walked in.


“What is that HORRIBLE smell?”



Tom TastesIMG_5618


“What? Is it terrible?”

“Here, have some.”

“I don’t want to. It smells horrible.”

“It tastes better than it smells.”

“Really? Even with the American cheese?”

“Actually, you can’t taste the American cheese at all.”

The Verdict: Good

From The Tasting Notes:

Tastes like crab pot pie. Not bad, and not exactly what we were expecting. The biscuit topping was great. The biscuits were light and moist and went well with the thick filling. Overall, was a waste of crab because you really couldn’t taste the crab in it. The filling itself was just too thick, soft and full of strong flavors. It was VERY rich. The crab just got lost in it. Would be better if you used chicken, cheddar and mixed veggies instead of crab, American cheese and tomatoes. I can see this making an amazing chicken pot pie.

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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11 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. CAT February 19, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    I think I threw up a little in my mouth when I read the title of your latest taste test. GROSS.

  2. Lassie February 19, 2014 at 11:17 am - Reply

    Interesting! I adore crab, but just looking at the picture, I knew the crab would be totally squelched. I, too, thought chicken would be sturdier and hold up against the green pepper/onions/biscuit topping. (I can see a more delicate ‘creamed crab’ type thing served in a chafing dish over a popover of some sort, or over rice. With a glass of sherry and a green salad.)

  3. Carol February 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Wow! Honestly this looks really good to me! I’m totally gonna try it!

  4. heartfruit February 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Does make you wonder about the other recipes submitted to the Pillsbury 5th Grand Nationals.

  5. dkzody February 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    This recipe won $1000? That’s pretty darn amazing. The biscuits might be ok, the rest just sounds like a big gloopy mess. (of course, I don’t like crab, peppers, or American cheese)

  6. Fiona February 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    What is/was Accent?

    • RetroRuth February 19, 2014 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      Hey Fiona!
      Accent was the brand name for MSG. Fun, huh?

  7. jennifer barnaby February 20, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

    According to an online inflation calculator, $1,000 in 1956 is now worth $8,620. I think you owe that to your husband for being brave enough to try it. I think using a double boiler is really interesting.

    • dkzody February 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm - Reply

      You are right! Using a double boiler is hardly heard of now. I guess we use our microwave ovens instead. I don’t even have a double boiler but rather use a metal mixing bowl inside one of my RevereWare pans. I remember my mother’s RevereWare double boiler bowl looked about the same as the bowl.

  8. Denita Ruhnow February 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    Been lurking for a while, geeking out over the over-saturated photos and gelatinized culinary train wreck that is Mid-Century food, but this one had me come out of the wood work. What a hot mess of clashing flavors!! Who pairs a delicate meat like crab with a heavy flavor like worcestershire sauce?! No wonder it got swallowed up in the traffic jam!

    I really think that if the American cheese* were swapped out for a nice, mild Provolone and a swirl of cream, the standard veggies were switched out for tender baby spinach greens, shallots, and a scattering of finely-sliced celery; and white wine instead of worcestershire sauce, it’d probably be a modern-day winner.

    *I don’t care what they call it, that ain’t cheese. If it involves stabilizers, starch, and Victor Frankenstein standing over it shouting “It’s ALIIIIIVE!!” then it can no longer be called cheese. Just my 2 cents. 😉

  9. Kathryn March 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    It sounds really good to me! I’d like to try it with crawfish though.

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