writeonthebay

Boil 2008

In Family, Food on May 18, 2008 at 9:48 pm

 

Every spring I get homesick. Spring in Louisiana means Mardi Gras parades, azalea trails, Jazz Fest, and crawfish boils. Like the crab feast in the Chesapeake region or the clam bake in New England, the crawfish boil offers the chance to get down and dirty with some flavorful seafood. But more importantly, it offers the time to linger over conversations with friends and family.  No showy parade of six courses, no dine and dash. It’s a meal that’s about the people eating it. And that’s my favorite kind.

Yesterday we held our fourth annual crawfish boil. Last year’s boil was a massive event (for our humble abode) with some fifty guests. Richard and I felt like we worked more than enjoyed our own party. So, as nice as it was to invite so many friends and neighbors, this year we went for a much more intimate affair. The weather was superb — about 70 degrees and mostly sunny. And the best part — we actually sat down and feasted ourselves!

The kids kept themselves busy. Dax ferried a couple of crawfish about in the beloved dumptruck.

Madeleine and the other girls created a plethora of signs elucidating their newfound “dislike” of boys. All males in attendance were issued a bathroom pass. All other purposes for entering the house were banned. Interestingly, Dax was the only one who “didn’t need a pass”, though he was likely the only true target of the “no boys — even boy octopuses” ruling.

Boil 2008 has been declared a success. Thanks for coming, y’all!

You too can boil crawfish at home. We’ve ordered live crawfish every year from Cajun Grocer, and have been pleased with the quality of the crawdads and the pricing. We basically follow this recipe from Chef John Folse.

Chef John Folse’s Boiled Crawfish
PREP TIME: 2 Hours
SERVES: 12
COMMMENT: The crawfish boil is the premier social event in the springtime here in Louisiana . Friends and family gather for an afternoon under the shade of an oak tree to enjoy a delicacy unequaled in the Southland.

INGREDIENTS:
50 pounds cleaned crawfish
30 quarts cold water
12 medium onions, quartered
6 heads of garlic, split in half, exposing pods
1 dozen lemons, quartered
1 quart vegetable oil
4 pounds salt
¼ pound cayenne pepper
8 ounces celery salt
4 ounces McCormick Old Bay Seasoning
4 (3-ounce) bags Zatarain’s crab boil
1 (4-ounce) bottle Zatarain’s liquid crab boil
3 (12-ounce) bottles of beer
24 medium red potatoes
6 whole artichokes
3 pounds smoked sausage
12 ears of corn

METHOD:
Live crawfish may be purchased already washed from your seafood supplier. However, a second rinsing in cold water would not hurt. The purging of crawfish, that is, washing the crawfish in cold salted water, has been found to be useless other than to place the animal under unnecessary stress. So forget the purging — rinsing in cold water will suffice. In a 60-quart stockpot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add onions, garlic, lemons, cooking oil, and all other flavorings except vegetables and sausage. Allow mixture to continue boiling for 30 minutes. This boiling of the vegetables will ensure a good flavor. Add red potatoes, artichokes and sausage and cook approximately 10-12 minutes. Add corn and cook 10 minutes before adding the crawfish. Once crawfish are added, bring to a rolling boil, stir gently for one minute. Turn off heat, cover and allow crawfish to soak in hot liquid 12-15 additional minutes, testing occasionally for seasoning and doneness. Crawfish should be served hot with potatoes, artichokes, corn and pitchers of ice cold beer.
NOTE: If boiling 20 pounds or less, cut the ingredient amounts in half including the water.

 

 

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