Ooo Wee. It don’t get no betta dan dis Cher. This
isn’t a meal it’s a celebration! It is best when shared with
good friends, good conversation, and good beer. I've
been cooking crawfish for more years than I care to admit and
I've got it down to a fine art. It’s really much
easier than most people think. The
mark of a good crawfish boil is getting the first batch right.
Anybody (even Yankees) can get it right if you cook a batch
and then taste and adjust. What a waste! Follow these
directions and you’ll get the first batch right every time.
If there is one single recipe I'm known for it's my
boiled crawfish. I've been doing crawfish boils where we
cook as many as 7 sacks of crawfish for more years than I care
to admit. I used this recipe in a crawfish boil contest
once and placed 2nd out of 82 teams. Honestly, this recipe
is that good. Now that I have the recipe on the web I get
emails every year from at least a dozen people who want to try
to boil crawfish for the first time or who have had bad results
and want to try a different recipe. I have tried to make
this a simple to follow as possible so there are a lot of
explanations. The explanations make this recipe longer to
read but easier to follow. Try this, and I guarantee you
will have some of the best crawfish you have ever eaten.
One more thing. By far the most common email
question I get is "Are these too spicy"? The answer to
that is, if you follow this recipe to the letter you will get
spicy crawfish but these are not blow your head off hot.
Too many people (and especially seafood stores) use too much
cayenne pepper in their crawfish. Cayenne pepper is cheap
and overpowering. When you use cayenne pepper as you main
seasoning, it says that you don't want to spend money on good
spices and you want to sell crawfish at a big profit, or you
just don't know what you are doing. There is no cayenne
pepper in this recipe but there is plenty of spice. Over
the years I have adjusted the heat level so that you get a batch
of spicy crawfish that don't make your eyes water. These
are spicy but not overpowering crawfish.
Start with a good crawfish pot and a burner designed to cook crawfish. The pot should have an extra heavy duty strainer basket that you place everything into. The burner should be sturdy, low to the ground, and put out a tremendous amount of BTU's. If your not sure if your pot is big enough or the burner is hot enough…. It isn’t. Go get a bigger one or a hotter one.
If you've ever been to a crawfish boil you know this must be done outside. Its messy and the aroma from the boiling pot will overwhelm you if you try to do this inside. I know at one time or another, you've stood in your yard and smelled the delicious smell of someone grilling next door. The aroma (fumes?) from cooking crawfish carry a good distance also. Once you have tasted crawfish, this aroma will make your mouth water just the same.
Some people go through all kinds of commotion trying
to "purge" the crawfish. It’s not worth it. Many people swear
that salt water will make the crawfish "purge" them
selves. LSU studied it and found that salt didn't help and
killed some of the crawfish. If you don't believe me
here's the link LSU Crawfish. I just rinse
the crawfish off until the water runs clear.
Lastly, I used to cook crawfish and just add corn and
potatoes but now we add sausage, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts,
carrots, and green beans. The old way is perfectly fine
and nobody will complain, but the additional ingredients make
the boil that much better. Now that you've read through
all this, here are the directions.
Fill the pot with the
proper amount of water. A good rule of thumb is to divide the
number of quarts the pot will hold by 10 and fill it with that
many gallons of water. For example an 80 quart pot will use 8
gallons of water. I have three crawfish pots. A small one
for a couple of people, a large size for a small group, and a huge
one for parties. My huge pot is 120 quarts, the large one is
80 quarts and the small one is 38 quarts. It is possible
to fit a whole sack (40 or so Lbs) of crawfish into an 80
quart pot at one time. However, the 80 quart pot gets
too crowded when you add the sausage, mushrooms, corn, etc.
If you want to cook a whole sack at one time and have the
corn, potatoes, sausage, mushrooms, etc., it's best to use a pot
that is at least 100 quarts. If you have a different size
pot than I have, the ratios for the first batch of crawfish are 1
cup of liquid crab boil, 8 oz (by weight) of salt, 1 lemon, 1
orange, and 1 onion per gallon of water. This ratio also
works well for boiled shrimp or crabs.
Here are a couple of notes you might find
useful. We have a crawfish boil every year and about 75
friends show up.
It's a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. We
cook 120 to 140 Lbs of crawfish and by the time you add all the
other stuff, we end up with a little over 200 lbs of food.
I know that sounds like a lot, but like all shellfish crawfish
loose a lot when you peel them. In years past I have stood
by the pot cooking everything as the party went on, but now I
start about an hour and half before every starts arriving.
It's faster, less work, and I get to enjoy my own party
more. I use two 160 quart ice chests to hold the cooked
food. Between the two of them, they easily hold everything
and they keep it steaming hot all day long. To serve, we
use a huge commercial ice scoop to fill a five gallon
bucket. We dump a bucketful on each table and just keep
refilling as the day goes along.
And lastly here are a few notes about the boil.
|Spices & Water
liquid crab boil
|Zatarain's® bag crab boil (3 oz bags)
garlic (cut in half)
|120 Qt Pot
||100 Qt Pot
||80 Qt Pot
||38 Qt Pot
||40 to 45 Lbs
||40 to 45 Lbs
||30 to 35 Lbs
||12 to 15 Lbs
|Small red potatoes
|Polish sausage (cut into 2"-3" pieces)
|½ ears of frozen corn
|Fresh Brussels sprouts
|Peeled baby carrots
|Fresh green beans
Dump the crab boil, salt, garlic, lemons, oranges and
onions in to the water and bring it to a boil. While the water
heats up, rinse the crawfish and throw out the dead ones. When
the water comes to a rolling boil, add the crawfish, and
potatoes and put the lid on. When the crawfish come back to a
good rolling boil start timing. After the crawfish have boiled
for 7 minutes, turn off the heat. There will be plenty heat left
to cook the rest of the stuff. Now throw in the sausage,
mushrooms, and corn. Try to push the sausage, mushrooms,
and corn under, put the lid on, and let this sit for 10
minutes. Now throw in the Brussels sprouts, carrots, and
green beans. Put the lid back on and let this sit for 5
minutes. Stir everything once in a while if you'd like. If
not, just have a beer and wait. Lift the basket full of
everything and let it drain for a minute or so.
If you are cooking a single batch or eating each batch before starting, carry the basket to the serving table and dump it all out. If you want to cook multiple batches dump each batch into a cooler. Then, using a set of tongs, pull out the lemons, oranges, and especially the onions and throw them away as they have given up all the flavor they have and now they are soft and mushy. Use a bucket to scoop from the cooler and serve as needed. Make sure you have lots of beer, paper towels fo da juices, liquid margarine fo da corn, potatoes, and garlic and garbage cans fo da mess. Suck da heads, pinch da tails.
If your having a party.....for each additional batch add (in the same order as before):
|120 Qt Pot
||100 Qt Pot||80Qt Pot||38Qt Pot|
|Zatarain's® liquid crab boil||2 cups
||2 cups||1½ cups||½ cup|
|Zatarain's® bag crab boil||2
||¼ box||¼ box||½ cup|
|Heads of garlic (cut in half)
|Lemons (cut in half)||3
|Oranges (cut in half)||3
||40-45 Lbs||30-35 Lbs||12-15 Lbs|
|Small red potaotes
||2-3 Lbs||1½-2 Lbs||½ Lb|
|Polish sausage (cut into 2"-3" pieces)||2 Lbs
||2 Lbs||1½ Lbs||½ Lb|
|½ ears of frozen corn||10-20
||10-20||8-12||4 or 5|
|Fresh mushrooms||3 Lbs
||3 Lbs||2 Lbs||1 Lb|
|Fresh Brussels sprouts||3 Lbs
|Peeled baby carrots||1½ Lbs
||1½ Lbs||1 Lb||½ Lb|
|Fresh green beans||1½ Lbs
||1½ Lbs||1 Lb||½ Lb|