• Tommy Centola

Frozen crawfish work too

The 2020 crawfish season has come and gone. If you have some leftover crawfish tails, you're a lucky person. You can, however, make some tasty crawfish dishes using frozen crawfish bought at the grocery store.

Just don’t reach in and grab any package of crawfish tails. Read the package closely. Make sure you are buying Louisiana crawfish tails. Packaging and brand names will make you think you are getting the authentic product. Don’t be fooled. There is a tremendous flavor difference between Louisiana tails and imported ones.

Today, I am sharing with you two recipes from my upcoming cookbook, Creole and Cajun Comfort Food: Crawfish Cakes and Creole Shrimp and Grits. These were two of the recipes I recently cooked and photographed for the upcoming release. I know you will find them tasty.

This recipe is a take on my crab cakes. I created this dish one day after a crawfish boil. I figured that the crawfish would make a great substitute for the crab. From the reactions I received, I must have been right. This taste great with remoulade sauce to dip it in.

Crawfish Cakes

1 tablespoon butter

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup green onions, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 pound crawfish tails, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon fresh basil leaves, chopped

Canola oil for frying

Over medium heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Sauté garlic in butter until golden brown. Add green onions and cook until soft. Add parsley and cook one minute. Add crawfish and Creole seasoning and mix thoroughly. Add heavy cream and mix well. Add breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and basil; mix well. The mixture should not be liquidity. If so, add more breadcrumbs. Allow mixture to cool. Form cakes in hand, making a 2 1/2 inch circle. Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. You may also deep fry them by heating a fryer to 360 ℉. Dip crawfish cake in egg wash, then cover with more breadcrumbs. Cook them for 3 minutes or until golden brown.

Here is my version of this Carolina classic. This breakfast dish is now seen on many dinner menus around the country. My version has a Creole twist. The flavors dance over your tastebuds.

Creole Crawfish and Grits

4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste

3 cups seafood stock

1 bay leaf

2 pounds crawfish

Heat butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is caramel colored ( about 8 to 10 minutes). Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring often, 5 to 7 minutes or vegetables are tender. Stir in Creole seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Add the tomato paste and stir until it evenly coats all of the vegetables. Slowly add the seafood stock, stirring constantly, to create a thick sauce. Add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook 10 minutes, stirring in more stock to reach desired consistency. Serve over Cheese Grits.

Here is a quick version of cheese grits. I like to use stone ground grits. For an Italian twist, use can also use polenta.

Cheese Grits

3 cups water

3/4 cup quick grits

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add the grits and salt. Stir well with a whisk, Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cheese. Keep covered until ready to serve.

I hope you enjoy these crawfish dishes. If you are not a fan of crawfish, you can substitute shrimp. Make sure that you use cooked domestic shrimp. When it comes to food, the closer the producer is to you, the better.

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