Spring is just around the corner. Time to gather your friends and start cooking in the yard. So while most people dust off their barbecue grills, in South Louisiana, it’s their boiling pots. Whether it’s shrimp or crawfish, a seafood boil is a great way to start off your spring.
Since crawfish season is kicking into full gear, I am sharing the way that I boil crawfish. You can use the same recipe for shrimp. Where things get interesting are the ingredients you choose to include in your boil. The first thing that I always like to include are turkey necks. The first time I saw that, I was confused. Why would anyone boil turkey necks with crawfish. I took the leap of faith and now they are a part of every boil. Other great additions are mushrooms, hot dogs, broccoli and cauliflower. Don’t stop there. Let your imagination run wild. Let’s head to the yard and let’s start boiling!
A large boiling pot with a strainer. They range in size from 22 quarts to 100 quarts. They come with a burner that gets hooked up to a bottle of propane for heat.
This recipe is based on using a 60 quart boiling pot. Adjust seasonings to the size of your pot.
Sack of Live Crawfish (Whether 30 to 36 pounds), purged
3 26-ounce Salt Rounds
1 box Zatarain’s Crab Boil in Bag
3 cups Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil
1 cup Zatarain’s Dry Crab Boil
3/4 cup Cayenne Pepper
6 Large Lemons, cut in half
6 Yellow Onions, Peeled
6 Heads of Garlic, peeled of outer skin but enough left to keep head in one piece
24 small Red Potatoes
10 Corn Cobbettes
4 pounds Smoked Sausage, cut into bite sized pieces
Zatarain’s is a New Orleans spice company, whose products I use. You can use whatever brand of seasonings you prefer.
To Purge Crawfish
This is a very important step. If you don’t purge your crawfish, they may still taste like mud. Purging cleans the crawfish inside and out. Pour live crawfish in an ice chest or large metal tub and sprinkle 1/2 round of salt on crawfish. Fill the ice chest with water until the crawfish are covered. Gently stir the crawfish to dilute the salt. Leave the crawfish in water for 10 minutes or so. This will cause the crawfish to purge themselves of mud and other things. Drain the water and purge one more time. After the second purge, rinse the crawfish until the water around them is clear.
To Boil Crawfish
Fill boiling pot halfway with water. You can do multiple batches and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Begin heating covered water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, add seasonings. After the water has been boiling for 5 minutes, add everything except the crawfish. (If you wish, you can put all of these items in a mesh laundry bag. This way, all of the sides are kept together.) Boil for 10 minutes. Add crawfish and boil for 4 minutes. When done, turn off the heat and allow to soak for 10 to 15 minutes. The longer you allow the crawfish to soak, the spicier they become. Allow the crawfish to drain before dumping them on a newspaper-covered table. Let the Feast begin!
How to peel a Crawfish
Grab the head firmly with one hand and grab the tail with the other. Twist and pull the tail from the head. Suck the head for a little extra flavor (optional). Peel off the first two or three rings. Pinch the end of the tail and pull the meat from the shell.
We are fortunate to have a couple of places where you can get live crawfish for boiling. I signed a few of my first cookbooks with the following phrase: May every day be like a crawfish boil! My meaning to this phrase is that a crawfish boil is a day surrounding yourself with family and friends to eat good food. It’s always a joyous day when you have a big boil. Start planning yours today!