Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My First Louisiana Crawfish Boil

This post is a bit of a departure from gardens and plants, but before I left New Orleans, I helped prepare my first Louisiana crayfish boil.

Our gracious hostess Alison showed me the ropes. She was born and raised in New Orleans and was more than happy to put me to work. I had the best time helping too.

Now first be sure you say "craw-fish" and not "cray-fish". As a northerner, I'm used to saying cray-fish, which will have the locals laughing at you.

The morning of the boil, we went to the wholesale grocer and bought two net bags of live crawfish, nearly 60 pounds total or basically 2-3 pounds per person.

Let us out!
The cleaning process involved a garden house, a cooler and the curb. We placed one of the net bags in a cooler and then hosed down one bag at a time until the water was mostly clear. Add water, shake bag, pour out dirty water. Wash, rinse, repeat.

When the water was mostly clear, the bag was cut open and the rinsing/dumping/changing of the water continued. You can never have clean enough crawfish apparently.

I did accidentally dump a few out into the curb when I tipped over the cooler to pour the water out and had to retrieve some of them. I'm sure they thought they were going to make a break for freedom.

Remember when picking up a crawfish to grab it behind its head and out of reach of the claws or it will get you!

You also want to make sure while rinsing, that you pull out any of the dead ones. If their tails are straight - they're dead. You don't want to cook the dead ones either.

Beginning the cleaning process.
A laundry basket of clean mud bugs.
The pot and strainer.
The dry spices - Salt, bay leaves, spice packets.
The liquid spice
The set up!
Water and spices in the pot.
Some flavorings. Garlic, onion, celery, and potatoes.
At this point, it is mission critical to have a beer (or a delicious frozen daiquiri) in hand, if you haven't already.

I'm a little fuzzy on the cooking times. Not because I was responsibly enjoying a delicious adult beverage, but because I was still washing the second bag of crawfish at the curb and not paying attention to what was going on.

It takes a while to get the huge pot of water to a boil. Once the pot was hot enough, we boiled the spices a few minutes and gave them a good stir.

Then the inner basket with the veggies (onion, celery, potatoes, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts) and aromatics went in.

We used a wooden paddle to stir the pot and also used the paddle's handle to raise the inner basket out as it's hot and heavy.

The crawfish get added to the wire basket and get boiled for about 5 minutes. Then the burner gets turned down and the crawfish soak in the liquid for 20-30 minutes. The flavor comes mostly from the soak and you don't want to overcook the crawfish by boiling them too much.

Coming to a boil.
The lifting of the strainer.
Picking out some Brussels sprouts.
At a point we tested the crawfish and some of the veggies for done-ness and flavor. All yummy!

All in but the corn on the cob.
Getting ready to dig in!
To serve them, just pour into big trays set out in a big table. Have some other empty trays for the shells and a lot of napkins at the ready. Don't forget to get another beer!

To eat the crawfish, you pull the tail from the head, peel back the shell part and eat the tail meat. Don't forget to suck the head part noisily to get all the goo out.  

I didn't suck the head parts like my neighbors, I was too squeamish, but was sure to say I did when asked!

"oh yeah, that was some good head" (snicker, snicker)

The head shells also make excellent finger puppets!  

1 comment:

  1. That sure looks like a feast - but I've never seen daiquiris served in those sorts of cups before - are they polystyrene or plastic?