by Daniel Travers
There’s potatoes, corn on the cob, and of course crawfish, but beyond that every Cajun cook has a cherished recipe for a crawfish boil. To invite some friends over to test out different recipes, send out some crawfish boil invitations, order some crawfish and cover the picnic table with newspapers.
Remember that deep fry turkey cooker that’s lurking in the back of the kitchen closet? That is exactly what you need for a crawfish boil. The large pot with a tight fitting lid will be perfect. You will also need a wire basket insert to remove the crawfish and vegetables after they are cooked. The whole assembly sits on a propane burner. You will also need a large tub or ice chest (the one that the crawfish are shipped in is perfect), or a couple of bags of ice. A stirring paddle or long-handled spoon is useful too.
The best crawfish boil recipe starts with friends and family. The more the merrier. Add three to five pounds of fresh, live crawfish for each guest. CajunCrawfish.com ships them in 30 pound bags, which they say will serve ten people or two Cajuns. You will also need:
8 small onions
8 small potatoes
8 ears of corn
a head of fresh garlic
Many New Orleans cooks recommend Zataran’s crab boil, which comes in dry and liquid forms. If you are a DIY cook, Alton Brown has a recipe for crawfish spice mix, or if you just want to make it easy… and extra delicious, use the seasoning that comes with your crawfish order (it’s cajuncrawfish.com’s special blend). If you’re a foodie and want to mix your own… grind 1 tablespoon each of whole black peppercorns and whole coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons whole cloves and 1 ½ tablespoons whole allspice in a spice grinder. Mix ground spices together with 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons paprika, and 1 tablespoon each of onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dry mustard, dried dill weed, plus 6 crumbled bay leaves. Add the spice mix and 1 pound of kosher salt to 5 gallons of boiling water for the crab boil. This is enough spice to boil 10 pounds of crawfish. If using cajuncrawfish.com spice, use 1 bag per 10 lbs. of crawfish.
Add 5 gallons of water to the pot for each 10 pounds of crawfish. When the water boils, add half of the spice mix. Add the potatoes, corn, onions and garlic to the pot and cover. If you are adding andouille sausage, this is the time to add it, too. Let cook for ten minutes, then add the crawfish and replace the cover. Ed the Crawfish Master at the Cajun Crawfish Company says to watch for steam to escape from under the lid. When this happens, turn off the gas.
You can remove the basket from the pot and transfer the crawfish to an ice chest. Add one third of the crawfish to the chest, sprinkle with spice mix; add another third of the crawfish, sprinkle with spice mix, and then add the rest of the crawfish and sprinkle with more spices. You can also add two bags of ice to the pot instead of removing the crawfish. The ice will cool them down and they will sink to the bottom and absorb more spices.
No matter how you choose to spice your crawfish boil, it is served by dumping the crawfish and vegetables on a newspaper-covered table. Provide some melted butter and plenty of napkins! … melted butter is not necessary, they are delicious by themselves, but to each there own. Try them a variety of ways… always good.