Crawfish season is winding down here (giving way to a dubious shrimp season). I know there are plenty of people who don't understand the allure of the crawfish, but personally, I was gratified when my 3 1/2 year-old son started learning to peel his own this year and proclaimed them "delicious," heads and all.
I eat crawfish all kinds of ways, but my cousin sent me my great-grandmother's recipe for crawfish stew, and I was surprised by one of the ingredients - chopped, boiled eggs. I couldn't begin to imagine how this would work in a stew, so I made it for the first time yesterday, and it was quite good! It's not a complicated recipe, and I've tweaked it only slightly to accommodate those whose access is limited to Chinese crawfish in 12 oz. bags. (Hey, we eat it here, too. The state of Louisiana can't produce enough crawfish to meet the demands of the state alone, so we do what we have to.) Here it is:
1/2 cup flour
3 ounces vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
Two 12-ounce bags pre-cooked crawfish tails
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon fresh, flat leaf parsley
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 boiled eggs, chopped
1/4 cup green onion (scallion) tops
1. Make a dark brown roux with the flour and oil (see below), over medium heat.
2. Add onions and cook until limp (about 5-10 minutes). Add 2 cups of water to the roux and onions, bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are done and gravy is thickened. (When you add the water to the roux, it will separate, but it will come together again as the water heats up.)
3. Add crawfish, salt and cayenne, and parsley. Cook 10-15 minutes (until crawfish is heated through). Add additional salt and black pepper, to taste.
4. Just before serving, add chopped eggs and onion tops. Serve over steaming rice with a good green salad and hot garlic bread.
Note: Another unusual aspect of this recipe is that the ratio of flour and oil isn't the same (as it usually is when making a roux). I made it as the recipe specified, but if you want to make enough roux to save and use for other dishes, I'm sure you can make it with equal parts flour and oil, and the recipe won't suffer.
Making a Roux:
Making a Roux:
A roux (pronounced roo) is the base for many Cajun and Creole dishes, and consists of nothing more than flour and a fat (butter or oil), cooked and browned over a medium flame. It ranges in color from a light sand color (blond roux) to a milk chocolate color. In rural areas, a darker roux seems to dominate, and in New Orleans, the blond to medium roux seems to prevail. (I had my wedding dinner at Emeril's, when he was still cooking in his kitchen, and we had a duck and andouille sausage gumbo. My maternal grandmother, whose roux preference is all New Orleans, took one look at the gumbo and declared, "he burned the roux!" You can't please everyone.) I like all of it.
The secret to making a roux is patience and continuous stirring. You can't rush through it, or you'll burn it, but it's nothing more complicated than that. Here's the way to make a roux:
Put the oil and flour in a cast-iron or enameled cast-iron pot over medium heat. Stir slowly and constantly. After 5 minutes, the mixture will begin to foam. This foaming may continue for several minutes. The roux will begin to darken as it cooks and will have a nutty aroma. For a blond roux, cook for 10 to 15 minutes, for a medium brown roux (the color of peanut butter), cook for 30 to 35 minutes. A dark brown roux (the color of milk chocolate) takes about 40 minutes - though keep in mind that cooking times will vary according to the pot used, the heat source, intensity of heat, and the amount of roux being prepared. Visual cues are more important than the times given.
When finished, roux can be cooled, then stored for 1 month in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When it cools, the roux will separate. Before using, stir to blend and bring the roux to room temperature.