Best of the Fest


With Jazzfest postponed until October (when crawfish season will be in the rearview) I offer this recipe so you can make it at home for your Festing in Place (WWOZ 90.7-FM and, April 22-25 and April 29-May 2, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily) experience. 

Years ago, I spent days tinkering with the recipe that is now a dead ringer for the version Panaroma Foods (in Marksville) usually sells at Jazzfest in the spring. Figuring this out made me feel as though I had cracked the nuclear code. If I want my daughter to come home and invite all her friends, I need only to mention this is on the menu.

Happy Festing in Place! 

Cheesy Stuffed Crawfish Bread

Makes 12 Servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper 

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 pound boiled, peeled Louisiana crawfish tails with fat (can also be made with shrimp or fresh pork sausage, see notes below)

1/3 cup very thinly sliced scallions chopped green onions

1 (48-ounce) package frozen bread dough, such as Bridgeford (3 loaves), defrosted 

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Tony Chachere’s More Spice, Less Salt seasoning OR salt and pepper to taste

Louisiana hot sauce to taste (about ½ tablespoon to 1 tablespoon)

melted unsalted butter for brushing

1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the bell pepper and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peppers soften, and the garlic is fragrant, about 8 minutes. Add the crawfish, scallions, Tony’s seasoning (or salt and pepper) and hot sauce. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Cover and set aside. 

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. 

3. Roll each defrosted loaf of bread dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 20 x 5-inch rectangle. If you would prefer to have six smaller finished loaves instead of three large ones, cut each rectangle in half to form two pieces that are 10 x 5-inch rectangles. 

4. Divide the crawfish mixture evenly along the centers of each piece of dough. The mixture should be moist, not runny. Drain off some liquid if necessary. 

5. Divide the cheeses evenly atop the crawfish mixture taking care to keep it centered on the dough. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges to seal, fully enclosing the filing. Cut 2-inch slits on top of the filled dough to vent. Place the loaves on a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter. Bake until golden brown and the cheeses are bubbling from the slits in the dough, about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. 

6. Cool 10 minutes—if you can keep grabbing hands at bay for that long. Slice and serve warm. 

  1. Loaves may be cooked halfway, cooled, wrapped in foil, and frozen. Bring to room temperature, unwrap, and complete cooking to serve.
  2. To transport the loaves (perhaps for a “Festing in Place” picnic) wrap each hot, just-baked loaf tightly in foil to keep it intact and retain ambient heat.
  3. Shrimp may be substituted for the pre-cooked, peeled crawfish. If doing so use 1 ½ pounds peeled, raw shrimp (chop if large) and allow them to cook with the aromatic vegetables until they are fully pink. Drain off some liquid if the mixture seems runny before proceeding.

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