Kitchen Gourmet: Crawfish Feasting

3 delectable crawfish recipes to enjoy this season

Sometimes crawfish remind me of shmoos. Remember them? The small animals Al Capp introduced in his Li’l Abner comic strip in 1948. They were so accommodating they would jump into the pot and transform themselves into whatever you wanted to eat. I don’t remember them ever turning into crawfish, but crawfish weren’t on the national radar back then.

Well, crawfish aren’t really that accommodating. They sure don’t jump into the pot on their own and they remain crawfish whatever you do to them, but they can be prepared any number of ways and they can be combined with a variety of ingredients. I have long since lost count of the many crawfish dishes out there.

Boiled crawfish are everyone’s favorite this time of year, and for good reason. There’s no better way to celebrate spring. Whether you have leftover crawfish or you buy packaged crawfish tails, it’s fun to cook them in different ways. And with the availability of frozen crawfish tails, we can enjoy them year round.

With the exception of crawfish bisque, which is a production, most crawfish dishes can be prepared fairly quickly, which makes them eminently doable even on a weeknight. This month’s recipes take a minimum of preparation time. The deviled crawfish recipe can be prepared ahead, up to the final step of baking, so it is also a good choice for entertaining.

The combination of crawfish and pork in a stew is very quick to prepare, and it is a marriage that I’m particularly fond of. My version of crawfish jambalaya is somewhat different because the rice is first cooked in oil, which produces a jambalaya in which the grains of rice remain separate. This will not appeal to everyone. Some aficionados like their jambalaya rice to stick together. Finally, the crawfish gumbo is very straightforward and can be prepared in under an hour.

1. Deviled Crawfish

1/2 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c minced shallots
1 c chicken stock
1 tsp prepared roux
2 tsp tomato paste
2 anchovy fillets (chopped)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne
1 lb crawfish tails
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
2 tsp chopped parsley
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place four 4-ounce ramekins on a heavy, rimmed baking sheet.
2. In a heavy pot, boil ½ cup white wine vinegar and ¼ cup minced shallots until reduced to almost nothing. Add 1 cup chicken stock, bring to a boil and whisk in 1 teaspoon prepared roux until dissolved. Add 2 teaspoons tomato paste, 2 anchovy fillets (chopped) and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Season to taste with coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne.
3. Add 1 pound crawfish tails with fat, bring back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning. (May be made ahead to this point.)
4. Divide crawfish and sauce among the four ramekins. Combine 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan and 2 teaspoons chopped parsley and spoon over the top of each ramekin. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil. Bake in preheated oven until bubbly and browned, about 5-10 minutes.

Makes 4 servings as an appetizer.

2. Crawfish And Pork Stew

Two of Louisiana’s favorite ingredients come together in this dish.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound lean ground pork
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2½ cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon prepared roux
1 pound crawfish tails with fat
coarse salt, freshly-ground black pepper and cayenne
Hot sauce
¼ cup chopped green onion tops
¼ cup chopped parsley
steamed rice
1. Add oil to a a heavy casserole or dutch oven, turn heat to medium high, add pork and cook, stirring to break up meat, until pork begins to brown.
2. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add chicken stock and scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add roux, stir to dissolve roux and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
3. Add crawfish, bring back to a boil and season to taste with salt, peppers and hot sauce. Reduce heat and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve over steamed rice, garnished with parsley and onion tops.

Makes 4 or more servings.

3. Crawfish Jambalaya

Cooking the rice in oil before adding liquid helps ensure that the grains remain separate.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups long grain rice
3¾ cups chicken stock
1 pound crawfish tails with fat
2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed
lemon juice
coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup chopped green onion tops
1. In a heavy casserole or dutch oven, cook onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, while stirring, for 2 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan. Add to casserole, along with crawfish and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and simmer, covered, until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes.
3. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and adjust seasonings. Serve garnished with parsley and onion tops.

Makes about 6 servings.

4. Crawfish Gumbo

Crawfish gumbos aren’t seen as often as seafood or chicken and sausage gumbos, but maybe they should be.

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 rib celery (chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
5 c chicken stock
3 tbsp prepared dark roux
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 lb crawfish tails
Cajun/Creole seasoning
Hot sauce
Steamed rice
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped green onion tops
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil in heavy casserole and cook 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 bell pepper (chopped), 1 rib celery (chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (minced) until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, bring 5 cups chicken stock to a boil in a sauce saucepan, add 3 tablespoons prepared dark roux and whisk until dissolved. Add to casserole.
3. Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 bay leaf and ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves. Simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Add 1 pound crawfish tails with fat, season to taste with Cajun/Creole seasoning and hot sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve over steamed rice garnished with filé, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops.

Makes 4 servings.


Categories: Food