Crawfish aficionados are chomping at the bit for their first boil of the season. The anticipation usually begins around the Christmas holidays when the freshwater crustaceans begin trickling into the market. By the time Mardi Gras arrives, revelers are checking on the supply and demand in hopes that a myriad of crawfish dishes can be offered at Carnival parties.
Once spring officially arrives and the price of a sack of live crawfish has hopefully stabilized, it’s time to head outdoors for an old-fashioned boil.
It’s probably best to plan on purchasing a sack (usually between 40 and 50 pounds) or two, since in south Louisiana, the rule of thumb is to allow three to five pounds per person, which will then dictate the number of people to invite to your gathering.
You’ll need a large boiling pot outfitted with a basket liner, a butane burner, and of course some butane. Don’t forget herbs (bay leaves) and spices (lots of salt and cayenne), or a commercial brand seafood boil mix, which is readily available at the supermarket or on the Internet.
Traditionally, small boiling potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, onions and halved lemons are added to the boiling pot, but those on the cutting edge may want to include links of smoked sausage, fresh artichokes, and yes, even whole heads of garlic.
Spread layers of old newspapers on outdoor picnic tables where guests can stand or sit, elbow-to-elbow, while they pinch, suck and eat the sweet tail meat and enjoy the prized crawfish fat.
Don’t forget to have on hand several rolls of paper towels, heavy-duty garbage bags to line your garbage cans, and of course cold beer — lots of cold beer!
If, and that’s a big IF, you have leftovers, so much the better. Enlist friends to help with the task of cleaning the crawfish. Remove the heads and peel the tails as soon as possible, store the tails in airtight containers in the refrigerator, and use them within two to three days.