Crawfish Étouffée

We had this dish in New Orleans and it was delicious! I knew I wanted to make it for our dinner. For some reason, I didn’t process that I would need live crawfish to make it happen. The weekend before our dinner, I started googling where to get crawfish in Maryland and found a guy with a truck in Glen Burnie who imported the little guys from Louisiana. We arrived on Sunday afternoon to pick them up, and all five pounds of them were crawling!

We arrived back home with a plan to have our first crawfish boil. I made the mistake of naming all of them Steven, that made the situation much harder. Make sure you use the shells to make your own stock. It is amazing! Save the rest of it to make other seafood dishes. I used my leftovers for the Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya.

This dish is traditionally served with rice as a sort of soup. I made ours a bit thicker so it could be served alongside biscuits and cornbread. If you would like to thin yours out, do not reduce the stock as much. Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of stock instead.

After shucking all of the Stevens, I found that I only had just under one pound of tail meat. To extend my recipe, I went out and bought an additional bag of “Langoustine Tails” from Trader Joes. If you want to work with just the meat you have, divide the recipe in half.

Crawfish Étouffée

5 pounds live crawfish
1/2 cup “crab boil spice”
12 oz additional Trader Joes “Langoustine Tails”
2 sticks butter
3 large onions, diced
1 large bell pepper, diced
2 large stems celery, or 3 stems of celery hearts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
hot sauce to taste
2 cups green onion tops, 1/4 inch slice

method:

  1. Wash the crawfish several times in cool water until the water runs clear. Meanwhile, set up a large double boiler, fill just over halfway with water and add the spice mix. If you don’t find the spice mix where you buy the crawfish, dump some onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika into the pot. About 1/8 a cup of each will do.
  2. Wait for the water to be actively boiling before adding the crawfish. You might need to make them in two batches depending on how big your pot is. Make sure the crawfish are fully submerged, do not kill them slowly. Cover and boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in 4 cups or so of ice. Turn off heat. Leave for 10 minutes to allow spices to absorb into the crawfish.
  4. Drain. Repeat for a second time if needed. I just used the same water.
  5. Cool. Separate heads from tails. Peel tails. Reserve tail meats and all of the shells, separately. Check out this video if you have never done it before.
  6. Take all of your shells, place them back in the boiling pot, cover with water and simmer for at least an hour.
  7. Strain out the liquid and discard the shells (I kept a few for serving). Reduce the broth until you have about 5-6 cups.
  8. Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add onions, bell pepper, and celery. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, sauté for an additional minute or two.
  9. Sprinkle flour all over, mix to incorporate and cook for 10 minutes. Stir regularly to avoid burning.
  10. Add 2 1/2 cups (or 3 1/2 cups for thinner broth) crawfish stock. Stir until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  11. Add crawfish tails. Bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
  12. Add cayenne and season with salt and pepper. Taste, add hot sauce to taste.
  13. Stir in green onions, simmer for a few minutes longer.

Total time: 4 hours (this includes a light panic attack about killing crawfish and then shucking all of them)

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