Break out the crawfish – it’s Mardi Gras time

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 5, 2011

It is carnival season and every bakery, supermarket and convenience store have king cakes for sale. I think it is fun to try the different types, my favorite being praline and cream cheese. We have decided to go to New Orleans for the weekend but not stay for the big day next Tuesday. My sons live in New Orleans and are leaving for other places, since they get a little tired of Mardi Gras. Since we have not been in several years, we decided to get in the groove and go for it. Two of our favorite parades come this weekend: Krewe d’Etat Friday night is timely mostly political satire; Sunday night is Bacchus. I personally prefer the night parades with the flambeaux carriers.

In deciding what foods to do for Mardi Gras I could not help but think of crawfish. They are coming into season but are quite expensive at this time. I did buy a frozen pound of crawfish tails for $10.99 at the fish market in Baton Rouge. Steamed whole they were $4.29 a pound, so we need to wait somewhat for them to come down in price. I do know that Winn-Dixie will get some crawfish for you if you ask in advance. They are worth the effort, but keep in mind that it takes about 6 pounds of crawfish to get 1 pound of cooked tail meat.

Do not buy the frozen from Wal-Mart, because they taste terrible and come from countries, which do not have very high health standards for producing these fish. I decided to try a crawfish pie with my pound since I had never made one, but then I saw another recipe for using crawfish as an appetizer in a cocktail sauce. So pick you recipe and enjoy the crawfish. I will let you know how the Mardi Gras turned out for us.

The crawfish pie recipe comes from the Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine, Feb. 2010. If you are busy, you can make the filling two days ahead and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Louisiana Crawfish Pies

Makes 6 small pies or 1 large

1 stick salted butter

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 cup finely chopped green peppers

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon paprika

½ cup water

2 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 cup water (a slurry)

1 pound peeled Louisiana crawfish tails

¼ cup chopped green onions (green part only)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

6 3-inch pie shells or 1 9-inch pie shell, pre-baked according to package instructions

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring, until soft and lightly golden, about six minutes.

Add salt, cayenne, black pepper, tomato paste, paprika and ½ cup water. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for five minutes.

Add cornstarch and water. Cook mixture, stirring often, until it is smooth and lightly thick. Add crawfish and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add green onions and parsley and adjust seasoning to taste.

Remove mixture from heat and cool. Spoon mixture into the pre-baked pie shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until the mixture is bubbly, eight to 10 minutes for small pie shells or 15 to 18 minutes for a 9-inch shell.

Season to taste with Tabasco.

The next recipe is taken from the March 2011 issue of Bon Appétit.

Boiled Crawfish with Horseradish Cocktail Sauce

Prep 45 minutes, Total 1 hour 20 minutes

10 servings


1 ½ cups bottled mild tomato chili sauce (such as Homade brand)

7 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

3 teaspoons (or more) prepared white cream-style horseradish


12 whole cloves

4 Turkish bay leaves

1 3-ounce bag crawfish, shrimp, and crab boil (such as Zatarain’s)

l large onion, peeled, quartered

3 lemons, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, cut into chunks

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

4 pounds fresh crawfish

Large bowl of ice cubes

Lemon wedges

Sauce: Whisk the first four ingredients and 3 teaspoons of the horseradish in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and more horseradish, if desired. Transfer to a small bowl. Can be made one day ahead. Cover and chill.

Crawfish: Combine first seven ingredients in 10-12-quart large pot. Add 4 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until salt dissolves. Boil five minutes.

Add crawfish and boil five minutes. Remove from heat. Add ice cubes to pot to stop cooking. Let crawfish sit in liquid 15 minutes.

Using slotted spoon, transfer all crawfish to large bowl. Reserve 10 whole crawfish for garnish. Working with remaining crawfish 1 at a time, hold head and body with one hand and twist off tail portion with other. Peel shell off tail and clean tail. Place tail in medium bowl. Can be made eight hours ahead. Cover and chill tails and reserved 10 crawfish.

Divide cleaned crawfish evenly among 10 dishes. Garnish with whole crawfish. Serve crawfish with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Are you catching any parades this year? Happy Mardi Gras!