writeonthebay

Crawfish, crawfish, and pie #3

In Family, Food, In My Kitchen on June 17, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Richard and I have this ongoing argument over the amount of cayenne to use in boiled crawfish. He roots for the heat of the red pepper over the other ingredients of the spice bags that show up with the live crawdads. I argue that the heat shouldn’t drown out the flavors of mustard and dill seed and allspice berries. We generally let the final decision come down to the palates of our guests. For Saturday, we had no idea how much heat our guests could take, so we went conservative.

Then something happened that was a first. The crawfish was ready before any guests arrived, so they sat soaking up all kinds of deliciousness while everyone settled in. Then Richard poured them on the table, and hello, fire and spice! Everyone loved it though, and our happy eaters even dug into the super-spicy corn and the sweet garlic and onions. One guest mashed up the garlic with the potatoes. Well, duh… I’d never thought to do that before, and it was, of course, delicious.

Dessert was the lemon icebox pie Madeleine’ been wanting to make. Entry # 3 in the Summer of Pies.

Richard requested etoufée For his Father’s Day dinner, and as I pulled out my mom’s recipe, I realized I hadn’t made it in over a year. Such a shame.

 

Mama’s Crawfish Etoufée (with edits from Bridget)
 
2 T butter
1 T canola or vegetable oil
1/4 c flour
1 c chopped onion
1/2 c chopped bell pepper
1 lb crawfish tails
2 T fresh chopped parsley
1/2 c fresh chopped green onions
Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1-1 1/2 c chicken broth
 
Brown butter, oil, and flour into a golden brown roux.*
Add onions and peppers, sauté until onions are clear.
Add crawfish tails, lower fire, and simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add parsley, green onions, seasoning, and about 1/2 c of broth. Simmer 5 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 c broth, simmer again.
Serve with steamed white rice.

 * Paul Prudhomme writes a thourough introduction to roux in his Louisiana Kitchen. If you’ve never made a roux, fear not. It takes more patience than skill. Caution is warranted as roux has earned its nickname as “Cajun napalm”. Prudhomme generally recommends darker roux for lighter meats and seafood, but I prefer a medium to light roux for crawfish and shrimp. I also prefer butter as the main fat in this dish versus lard or pork fat.

 

Lemon Icebox Pie (adapted from a recipe in June 2008 Bon Appetit)
 
1 store-bought graham cracker crust
1 14-ounce can plus 2/3 c sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c sugar, divided
2 T cornstarch
2/3 c water
 
Preheat oven to 325° F. Whisk condensed milk, lemon juice, and yolks in medium bowl to blend. Let stand until thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour filling over crust. Bake pie 30 minutes.
While pie bakes, prepare meringue topping. Whisk 2/3 c sugar and cornstarch in heavy small saucepan. Gradually whisk in 2/3 c water. Brig to boil over mediu-high heat, whisking frequently (mixture will thicken). Cool 10 minutes.
Using heavy-duty mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy. Gradually add 1/3 c sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Beat in warm thick cornstarch mixture 1 T at a time. Beat until meringue forms glossy peaks.*
Spoon meringue over hot filling; spread all the way to the edges to cover filling completely.
Increase oven temperature to 350° F. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown in spots, about 18 minutes. Cool completely, then cover with cake dome and refrigerate over night.
Cut pie into wedges. Serves 8-12.
 

*If, like me, you let just the teeniest bit of yolk get into your egg whites, you will never reach this point. When I came to understand this, I pitched the meringue and opted for fresh whipped cream instead. I did let the pie bake another 10 minutes. It was well set but still had a beautiful silky texture. Next time I’ll save “contaminated” egg whites for an omelet.

 

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  1. Bridget,

    After YEARS of making this pie, the meringue is a new one on me. How does it differ from regular old beaten egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar?

    And I LONG ago gave up on meringue—I KNOW I’m gonna use whipped cream before I start. Once, long ago, I put the pretty swirls of meringue on a pie, stuck it in the oven, and let all the little tips get WAY too dark. I picked off all the ugly bits, stuck it back in to brown the rest nicely, got busy with one of the children, and let it burn slap to charcoal.

    With an odd note of pride in his voice, my husband said I was the only woman alive who could burn the same pie twice.

  2. Have to look this one up, but cream of tartar is a stabilizer of course. Can’t remember what the cornstarch is supposed to achieve. I think one may be less likely to “sweat” than the other..

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