Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Crawfish Boil: The Main Event

Once Spring comes around and Saints football and Mardi Gras have ended, the good people of Louisiana have to find something new to fill their weekends, and that something is typically attempting to eat your own weight (or usually at least 5 lbs per person) in delicious crawfish during the day-long gloriousness of a crawfish boil. It's not just about the star of the show, though, as all the wonderful veggies invited along to soak up all that marvelous spice can be just as big of an attraction for some folks as the mudbugs themselves. Hell, these feasts are so important to the culture that it's practically a rite of passage when kids back home finally perfect their peeling technique. So long as everyone is having a good time and the beer is flowing as freely as good conversations, there just might not be a wrong way to do a boil.

With the crack team I had assembled featuring crab boil master Jaime, kitchen rockstar Kevin, crawfish wrangler Dennis, official beer getter and Dennis whisperer Jackie, fellow Louisiana native (and closet crawfish hater) Brandon, guacamole master Laura, and the ready to let the babysitter handle things for the night power couple of Sacha and Maconda, our crawfish boil was sure to be one for the ages.

Crawfish Boil
Time: About 2 beers
Servings:  ~ 6-10 people

Still healthy at this point

Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab Boil (about 1.5 16 oz. bags per round)
30+ lbs crawfish, live and rinsed well
Garlic, whole
Onions, halved
Brussels Sprouts
Green bell peppers, halved
Mounds of mushrooms
Celery, chopped in half
Red potatoes
Corn on the cob
Lemons, halved

All the inner boiled goodness will absorb a lot of the water, so make sure you have enough.

  1. Probably ask someone who has done this a few more times how to do it and skip the rest of the steps.
  2. Successfully purchase a massive bag of crawfish and manage to keep them alive until ready to boil (ice chest).
  3. Don't worry at all about being precise and crack open a beer.
  4. Season water with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Zatarain's in a large stockpot over a propane flame. The water should cover reach about halfway up the pot. It needs room for all the goodies that will be dropped in but also needs be enough for when the crawfish are added and absorb a good amount of the water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the potatoes, garlic, onion, Brussels Sprouts, mushrooms, lemon, celery, and potatoes. by eyeballing how much you want. Return to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. 
  6. Pour in the crawfish, return to boil then turn off the flame and let sit for 15 minutes. 
  7. Remove the crawfish and start the next batch. Re-season and add additional water as needed. Subsequent batches will be spicier.
  8. Attempt to eat your weight in crawfish.
A very small portion of all the peeled deliciousness.
Again, the most important part of the crawfish boil is to have fun, and we sure did. Catching up while waiting for the suckers to boil was just as great as eating the finished product. These crawfish were absolutely bursting with the wonderful New Orleans heat and flavors (making sucking the heads and claws a must) that I've found to be lacking when I've bought crawfish elsewhere. Those flavors came through just as lip-scorching amazingly in the veggies, with the last minute Brussels sprouts being the surprise winner. Combined with the creamy nirvana of our Jambalaya and some choice sides, it was a night that our mouths and waist lines would not soon forget.

Dennis modeling with his new best friend while Jackie practices the drink running abilities she would later perfect at my wedding.