By: Jay Ducote
Crawfish is one of the essential seasons of Louisiana. It helps bridge the gap between Carnival season and football season, and coincides with most of festival season. For a few months out of the year, crawfish highlight seasonal menus and give us a reason for parties. The fresh-water crustaceans are an unusual kind of Cajun delicacy, one that can be measured by the sack and boiled in spicy stock.
A crawfish boil is the Cajun block party. It is a gathering of friends, families, neighbors, or co-workers. Many around the state think of it as a ritual. There are “boil masters” and award-winning eaters. Indeed after the boil, it’s rare that there are leftovers. Good Samaritans in the group will help peel any remaining crawfish to reserve the meat. From there the shells can be saved for stock and the tails can be used in crawfish omelets the next morning.
There are also plenty of crawfish dishes that are worthy of making, even if leftovers don’t exist. Crawfish étouffée is one of my all-time favorites. I made it on Food Network Star to rave reviews from the judges. A great crawfish bisque with stuffed heads is the one of the cornerstones of Cajun cooking. Another dish I truly love is a crawfish fricassee.
Taking a classic French twist, my crawfish fricassee uses a blond roux with the traditional mirepoix rather than the Cajun trinity (using carrots instead of bell peppers along with the onion and celery). It also features mushrooms and tomatoes, two ingredients I’d never use in an étouffée, but they are quite lovely in the fricassee. Simmered down with a little white wine, chicken stock, and some herbs, the flavor of the crawfish really shines through. It’ll make you wish crawfish season lasted all year long.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced carrot
- ½ cup diced celery
- ½ cup peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped tomato
- 4 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 quart chicken stock
- ⅔ cup dry white wine
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground white pepper, to taste
- 2 pounds cooked crawfish tails
- Hot cooked rice
- Garnish: finely chopped fresh thyme
- In a large saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour, and cook, whisking frequently, until a blond roux forms.
- Add onion, carrot, celery, tomato, mushrooms, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add stock, wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and white pepper; simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add crawfish, and cook for 5 minutes. Check seasoning, and add salt and white pepper to taste. Serve with a scoop of hot cooked rice. Garnish with thyme, if desired.