A boil is a real event, so make this meal when you have ample time and lots of friends to share it with. Traditionally, guests peel the leftover uneaten crawfish so the hosts can save the meaty tails to turn into other delicious crawfish dishes, like étouffées, salads, and pies. You can do the boil inside on the stove or outdoors on a grill or on a propane-fueled burner.–John Besh
LC Whole Lotta Crawfish Note
Uh, if you haven’t already glanced at the amount of crawfish this recipe demands, take a gander. Yup. Twenty pounds. That’s a lot of crawfish, aka mudbugs (for reasons we’d rather not contemplate as we ready ourselves to rip out the tails and slurp on the shells). Chef Besh, the author behind this recipe, says it’s actually typical to allow up to five pounds of crawfish per guest–that’s double what’s called for in this recipe. Yet he feels it’s safe to assume that, given there are so many other ingredients–sausage, sweet corn, artichokes–this recipe will easily satisfy eight voracious eaters. If your local seafood counter or monger doesn’t regularly carry crawfish, ask if they can special order them. If not, you can easily find online purveyors that ship them, typically already boiled. Or simply substitute shell-on shrimp. As to how to eat the slippery little suckers, it’s quite the hands-on affair. Have at the ready a roll of paper towels and some Wet-Naps you snagged from a local fast-food joint–uh, we mean, some dainty little bowls filled with ice water and lemon slices and your finest white linen napkins.
Special Equipment: A very large pot
Crawfish Boil Recipe
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes | Serves 8
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 packet (3 ounces) Zatarain’s Crab Boil spices or 2 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, homemade or store-bought
- 5 lemons, halved crosswise
- 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 5 whole heads garlic, halved crosswise
- 5 small onions, halved
- 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces (optional)
- 3 green bell peppers, seeded and diced (optional)
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 4-inch pieces
- 20 small red bliss potatoes, scrubbed
- 8 ears corn, shucked and halved
- 8 whole artichokes, untrimmed (optional)
- 20 pounds whole shell-on crawfish (fresh or frozen or already boiled), rinsed with fresh water or frozen if defrosted
- 1 pound button mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved if large (optional)
- 1. Fill a very, very large pot with 10 gallons water, leaving plenty of room for all the other ingredients. (Or you can use 2 or even 3 large pots, divvying all the ingredients evenly among them.) Bring the water to a boil with the kosher salt, boiling spices, lemons, cayenne, garlic, onions, celery and bell peppers if using, and the oil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
- 2. Add the smoked sausage, potatoes, corn, and artichokes, if using, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
- 3. If using fresh crawfish, add the crawfish now along with the mushrooms, if using. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat.
If using frozen or already boiled crawfish, add the crawfish now along with the mushrooms, if using. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
- 4. Strain everything from the boiling liquid, preferably using a large colander, which will make it easier to fish out all the good parts (that is, the crawfish and vegetables) from the rest. Dump the good parts that you strained onto a picnic table covered with newspaper (preferably the Times-Picayune). Then feast while drinking an Abita Amber beer.
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Crawfish Boil Recipe © 2009 John Besh. Photo © 2009 Ditte Isager. All rights reserved.