Margarita, Beer and Crawfish – by the pool
We had a marvelous weekend! We spent a splendid Saturday evening enjoying a traditional Louisiana Crawfish Boil hosted by our friends. My friend grew up in Lousiana and we have been hearing all about it for the past few years. This was our first time for a “formal” Crawfish Boil party – and we experienced it with all our senses.
It is definitely a hands on affair (especially the eating part) and it is wonderfully messy too.
And to host a Crawfish Boil party, one needs a fantastic hosts like we had, ample time, lots of friends to share, music and a beautiful summer evening. A big thanks to the Pizzutellos for allowing us to be a part of it.
How lovely is that we had all of them.
The balmy evening in Texas was filled with the squealing kids in the pool, sounds of laughter and an enormous preparation for the festive Crawfish boil.
This will be a post in photographs so hang in there and enjoy.
Little T agreed to hold one, after I promised she won’t get pinched.
The liquid concentrate for Seafood Boil; had spices like clove, bay leaf and also mustard oil!
My Little T. Sunshine on her shoulders makes her happy…
Their house sits on a large lot surrounded by the sprawling fields of wavy grass and wild flowers. It opens to the horizon where the sun sets as it paints the Texas sky with the most beautiful colors.
delights of a summer cookout…
They had about 150 pounds of live Crawfish for the event and about 50 people. I closely watched the entire process and was amazed at the expertise of some in shelling/peeling them.
My dad trying some….
Thanks to the generous hosts and also all the guests who allowed me photograph them and for answering all my questions. Thanks for all your patience.
Shake up some extra spice if they are not spicy enough for you….
There is “Crawfish Season”. They start becoming available early in the year, during the month of January (although they are pretty small early on) and run through the end of May and sometimes into June. The earlier in the year you get them, they are smaller and then they start to get tough after the end of May. The ideal period I would say is mid-February through mid May.
Vegetables and sausages boiling in seasoned stock.
The spice mix: dry and the liquid. See that the powdered spice has the instructions to the boil.
The Crawfish is taken out from the sack and placed in salted water to purge.
Rinsed after purging, they are ready to go into the pot of boiling seasoned stock.
Cooked for a little bit and then soaked. Now they are emptied out and ready to be seasoned again.
Minced garlic and olive oil go in.
And some of the Swamp Dust.
Shake, shake, shake it up for the spices to mix and coat the Crawfish.
Ready to be served… and devoured!
Time to sit down and relax.
Everyone found their own spot and got to peeling and eating.
Busy hands…breaking through the Crawfish is definitely an art I have not mastered yet. It is no easy task, and after all that breaking and shelling the flesh that is actually eaten is smaller than a shrimp!
Fun things to know:
“Crawfish are descendants of the Maine lobster. After the Acadians (now called Cajuns) were exiled in the 1700s from Nova Scotia, the lobsters yearned for the Cajuns so much that they set off cross the country to find them.
This journey, over land and sea, was so long and treacherous that the lobsters began to shrink in size. By the time they found the Cajuns in Louisiana, they had shrunk so much that they hardly looked like lobsters anymore. A great festival was held up their arrival, and this smaller lobster was renamed crawfish.” (source)
Crawfish Boil Recipe
- corn on the cob, halved
- mixed bag of potatoes (small red, yellow or purple new potatoes)
- onion (optional)
- garlic/bottled minced garlic
- any spiced oil or liquid crab/Crawfish boil (like liquid Zatarain’s Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil)
- some olive oil
- butter (about one stick for a one pot of cooking liquid)
- Cajun seasoning for Crawfish/seafood boil (“Swamp Dust” used here)
- live Crawfish (at least two to three pounds of live Crawfish per guest)
- any other vegetables you would like to serve with it – celery, mushroom etc
Other things you will need:
- outdoor propane cooker
- large pots with lid and basket insert/strainers
- large tub or barrel or wheel barrow for purging and storing the live crawfish
- ice chests to store and season Crawfish after cooked
- serving boxes, trays, plenty of napkins and/or newspapers
- brine/salt water to purge the Crawfish
- beer/wine/margaritas (what we had)
- plenty of happiness and good attitude
Notes: It is required that you use an insert or wire basket to cook, or else you will spend hours fishing out the Crawfish and the vegetables.
Use the spice as per your taste. If you need more, use more and vice versa. In the party we have multiple sets of Crawfish cooked. In some more spices were used and in some less.
The Crawfish should be live and fresh.
Store the Crawfish in a cool place until you are ready to start cooking.
Allow the Crawfish to return to room temperature just before preparing to cook.
Prepare the vegetables (leaves the potatoes whole) and sausages (slice them in bite size pieces). They may be cooked in the same insert as the Crawfish or cooked separately with the same seasonings that is used to cook the Crawfish.
The rule is to purge and thoroughly wash the Crawfish before boiling them.This cleanses them of mud and other unwanted things.
Pour a sack of live Crawfish in a large tub, or wheel barrow. Combine 20 oz of salt with enough water to cover all the Crawfish; place the Crawfish in the salted water and allow them to sit there for about 15 minutes. Soaking them too long will kill them. Then rinse them thoroughly.
Discard dead Crawfish before boiling.
After purging and cleaning, do not cover the Crawfish with water. Remove them in the inserts where they will be cooked (or any other pain/container) and store them in a shaded cool place.
Cooking the Crawfish, the vegetables and sausages:
Add the spices/seasonings (Swamp Dust and seasoned oil for seafood boil used here) in the water and allow them to boil in water for several minutes before adding anything else. Cover pot, turn on the burner on full and bring water to a boil. Allow the spice mix to infuse in water and flavor the cooking liquid. This makes a seasoned stock.
For cooking the vegetables and the sausages, add butter to the water and salt (if seasonings/spice mix do not have salt) to the water and add the vegetables (other than lemon of course) and the sausages in the post inserts/baskets and cook them covered until done).
Cooking the Crawfish:
Add seasonings. spiced oil and lemon to the water and bring it to a boil (in the same way as you did for the vegetables) then maintain the boil. Add the purged and cleaned Crawfish and have the water boil steadily. Turn the burner off, keep the pot covered, and let the Crawfish cook for about 10 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow them to soak for 15-30 minutes. Remove wire basket/insert from pot and allow the Crawfish to drain.
Transfer the cooked Crawfish to large ice chests. Add minced garlic, more seasonings/spice mix and some olive oil. Give the chest a big efficient shake to have everything combine. Allow the Crawfish with spices to sit for the flavors to infuse.
The Crawfish may be cooked in the same pot as the vegetables and sausages. Just wait until the potatoes are tender and the sausages and the other veggies are done before you add the Crawfish. Then cook as above.
Serve with the cooked vegetables, and lemon if you wish.
For those who you want extra seasonings, you can always add some while eating!