Marvelous Mudbugs

“In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
– from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem Locksley Hall





In Louisiana, a young man’s fancy may turn to thoughts of love, but likely as not, he is probably more concerned about the price and availability of live crawfish for a backyard boil.  The price for our beloved freshwater crawfish (live and peeled tails) begins to drop after Easter and I, for one, take advantage of the slump in price to put up crawfish etouffee, crawfish bisque and crawfish pies to store in my freezer for later use. And this year, I’m thinking outside the box and making a list of other uses for those miniature lobsters.

The good news is that crawfish are an excellent source of high-quality protein and are low in calories, fat and saturated fat. They also are a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, iron, copper and selenium.

Shrimp & Crawfish Fettuccini


3 sticks butter
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1½ pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1½ pounds peeled crawfish tails
2 cups half-and-half
1 pound Gruyere or Fontina cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
Salt and cayenne
1 pound fettuccini, cooked and drained
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy, large Dutch oven on medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes, or until they are wilted and lightly golden.

Add the flour and stir to mix. Cook, stirring often, for two to three minutes. Add the parsley, shrimp and crawfish. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.

Add the half-and-half, cheese, jalapeno peppers and garlic. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture thickens, about five minutes. Season to taste with salt and cayenne.

Arrange the fettuccini in a three-quart casserole and pour the seafood mixture evenly over it. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture bubbles. Serve hot.

Makes about 12 servings

Crawfish Fritters


1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup chopped yellow onions
½ pound peeled crawfish tails
3 eggs, beaten
1½ cups whole milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
4 cups solid vegetable shortening for frying
Seasoning mix (combination of ⅛ each of salt, cayenne, black pepper and garlic powder)

remoulade sauce

¼ cup Creole mustard
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cider vinegar
Dash of hot sauce
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup prepared yellow mustard
3 eggs, at room temperature
1⅓ cups vegetable oil

Season the eggplant with ½ teaspoon of the salt and cayenne. Heat the two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the onions and cook stirring, until soft, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring, until they throw off some of their liquid, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, baking powder, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon cayenne in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, ¼ cup at a time, beating until the batter is smooth. Add the eggplant and crawfish mixture, and fold to mix.

Heat about 4 fingers of the shortening in a deep pot or electric fryer to 360 degrees. Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil. When the beignets pop to the surface, roll them around in the oil to brown them evenly. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix and serve immediately with the remoulade sauce for dipping.

Makes about 2 dozen

remoulade sauce

Put all the ingredients except the oil in an electric blender or food processor. Cover and blend at low speed for 30 seconds. With the motor running, gradually pour in the oil in a steady stream. Sauce will thicken. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. * Since the mayonnaise is made with a raw egg, it’s best to use within 24 hours.

Makes about 2½ cups

Crawfish in Spicy Creole Mustard


¼ cup Creole mustard
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon ketchup
⅛ teaspoon (about 6 dashes) Tabasco sauce
Zest from ½ lemon, finely chopped
1 pinch chopped parsley, plus 1 tablespoon chopped in reserve
1 tablespoon chopped green onions, plus 2 tablespoons chopped in reserve
Cracked black pepper to taste
1½ pounds peel crawfish tails, rinsed

Combine all of the ingredients (except for the 1 tablespoon chopped parsley and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions) in a mixing bowl and whisk until all is well blended. Refrigerate for 24 hours or up to one week.

When ready to use, whisk again. To serve, toss the rinsed crawfish tails in some of the sauce, according to your personal taste. Add the reserved parsley and green onions. This is excellent served with party crackers or toasted chunks of French bread, or atop assorted mixed salad greens, or in tomato or avocado halves.

Whenever I have a crowd over for a crawfish supper, this is THE ONE. It’s very rich, creamy and oh, so delicious.

Makes 8 to 10 appetizer portions


Blanch & Store Your Own Crawfish
TO BLANCH Place live crawfish in enough boiling water to cover completely. Bring back to a boil. Quickly remove from water and let them cool.

TO STORE Pull off tails, peel and de-vein. Remove the fat before freezing. Crawfish fat becomes rancid and causes unpleasant flavor changes in as little as two to six months. Dip tails in a weak solution of lemon juice and water (1/3 cup to 1 quart water) for about 1 minute. This helps prevent the blue color that often develops when frozen crawfish are cooked. Drain and package in freezing containers or freezer bags. Barely cover crawfish with cold water, unless you are vacuum sealing them. Seal airtight. Freeze at 0 degrees F or below. When properly prepared, packaged and frozen, crawfish should maintain high quality for about nine months or longer.




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