By Marcelle Bienvenu
The weather is getting warmer. The azaleas are about to pop out. The days are getting longer. AND the crawfish season is in full swing. LIFE IS GOOD
After stormy weather moved through and the skies cleared, I took off in my old Jeep to investigate the crawfish ponds in rural St.Martin Parish. At my first stop near the Atchafalaya Basin, a crawfisherman greeted me waving a large crawfish.
“It looks like we’re going to have a good crop this year,” he smiled gleefully.
He handed me the wiggling crawfish and I gave it a once-over.
The crawfish is almost a perfect miniature of a lobster, and an old Cajun tale explains why.
The lobster and the Acadians that lived in what is now Nova Scotia in Canada resided happily together until 1755. It was in that fateful year that the British cruelly expelled the Acadians from their beloved Acadie and they wandered for years searching for a home, some finally settling in the bayous of southern Louisiana. The lobsters yearned for their French friends and set out off across the country to find them. The journey south was so long and arduous that they began to shrink in size. By the time they arrived in south Louisiana, they were only miniatures of their former selves. And the story continues…although they had shrunk, the flavor had intensified. To celebrate their reunion, the fun-loving Acadians created many crawfish dishes—etouffees, stews, pies—to honor their long-lost friends.
About this time of year I’m ready to cook up some of my favorite crawfish dishes. Of course, a big Crawfish boil is in order, but I also have several other recipes in my repertoire that I want to share with you.
My personal favorite is a crawfish etouffee served on a bed of rice and accompanied by a tossed green salad dressed with a tangy vinaigrette. My husband is a fan of crawfish cornbread. My sister always opts for crawfish pie while Baby Brother Bruce likes his crawfish with shrimp and pasta.
If you can’t choose just one, heck, make them all. Be sure to have lots of hot crusty French bread, cold beer and soft drinks on hand, and maybe a lemon pie or lemon bars for a refreshing dessert.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour dissolved in ¾ cup water
Salt and cayenne to taste
2 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
Cooked long-grain rice for serving
Heat the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery, and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to throw off a little liquid, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and water mixture, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and cayenne. Remove from the heat. Add the green onions and parsley. Serve in bowls over rice.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped yellow onions
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped pickled jalapenos
1 cup cream-style corn
1 pound peeled crawfish tails, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan.
Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared pan and bake a greased baking pan and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for several minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
Makes 6 servings
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 pound crawfish tails
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 (9-inch) pie crust
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and celery, and cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the salt, cayenne and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. Add the crawfish tails and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add to the pan. Stir for about two to three minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Add the green onions and parsley and stir to mix. Remove from the heat and cool for about 30 minutes.
Pour the crawfish mixture into the pie crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the edges of the pie crust are golden. Cool for several minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.
SHRIMP AND CRAWFISH FETTUCCINI
Makes about 12 servings
3 sticks butter
3 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds peeled crawfish tails
2 cups half-and-half
1 pound Velveeta 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 minutes or until the mixture bubbles.
My father always claimed that a lemon dessert is a winner after a seafood meal, so here’s an easy and delicious cookie to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Makes about 40 squares
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the butter, powdered sugar and one cup of the flour in a bowl. Mix well. Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9×9-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.
In another bowl, beat the eggs until light in color. Add the granulated sugar, the remaining two tablespoons flour, the baking powder and the lemon juice. Mix well. Spread this mixture over the crust and bake for 30 minutes more.
Remove and let cool before cutting into squares.