Crawfish Bisque

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Grandma Eschete making this dish on Easter Sunday for us to eat after Easter egg hunts. This was a sinfully delicious dish served on a holy day of obligation. I can’t think of any meal I have ever had that was better than Grandma’s Bisque. When someone goes to the trouble to make this for you; you know they really love you. Sadly Grandma is gone now and I never got her recipe. This was emailed to me a few years back. I have no idea where it came from but it will have to do. Somehow it doesn’t taste as good as Grandma’s bisque. I don’t think it’s the recipe’s fault.

Bisque is sometimes served as thin as a soup, sometimes even thicker than an etoufee -- adjust the consistency to suit your taste. What makes this unique among all bisques in the world is the addition of crawfish heads (shells, actually) stuffed with crawfish dressing.

2 lbs peeled crawfish tails
2 tbl butter
½ cup oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, finely minced
3 ribs celery, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
5 cups shellfish stock or water
1 tbl salt
1 tbl creole seasoning
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp thyme
½ cup sliced green onions
½ cup chopped parsley
5 dozen stuffed crawfish heads (recipe follows)
About 7-½ cups cooked rice

Clean 5 dozen crawfish heads for stuffing. The "head" is actually the large red thorax shell. Remove all inside parts, including the eyes and antennae and clip off the pointy tip near the eyes. What should remain is a little tube with two open ends and one open side. Be careful; the shell must be scraped clean on the inside and it can be a bit rough on the fingers. (I'm told that a beer can opener makes this job easier.) Divide the crawfish fat and tails evenly, reserving half for the bisque and half for the stuffing.

Prepare the stuffed crawfish heads according to the recipe below. This is takes a while and some folks stuff the heads the day before making the bisque. Recruit some help if you can, stuff the heads, and put them in a covered container and refrigerate. ..

To prepare the bisque, make a roux with the butter, oil and flour. Cook over low-medium heat, being careful not to scorch the butter, until the roux turns  peanut butter brown. Stir CONSTANTLY. This means constantly, without stopping for anything. Turn the heat off and add the onions, celery and garlic.  The roux will continue to cook the vegetables so keep stirring constantly until the vegetables are soft.

Add the stock or water (preferably stock) ½ cup at a time and stir well as you add each cup.  The ½ cup at a time part is very important.  If you add all the stock at one time you will have a bunch of stock with a glob of roux that won't mix well.  The stock and roux should make a nice thick gravy. Add the crawfish tails and crawfish fat, Creole seasoning, salt and peppers, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. If you've got a little leftover crawfish stuffing, add it to the pot as well, as it adds more body and flavor.

Add the baked or sauteed crawfish heads, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the onion tops and parsley just before serving.

To serve, mound about 3/4 cup rice in large bowl, and divide the bisque evenly between them. Serve 6 stuffed crawfish heads with each serving. Don't worry about table manners; you almost have to use your fingers to get the stuffing out of the heads. Some folks (like me) insert their tongue into the crawfish head to lick all the stuffing out. If you’re hung up on manners, the tail end of your fork or spoon, or the end of a butter knife, helps get the stuffing out more easily. Make sure everyone gets the same number of heads, or fights will break out; they're that good. Tradition requires the empty heads to be placed around the rim of the bowl, so that some don't get more than others. It's easier to count them quickly that way

For the Stuffed Crawfish Heads:
¼ cup oil
¼ cup flour
cleaned medium sized crawfish "heads"
1 lb
peeled crawfish tails
medium onion, finely minced
¼ cup
celery, finely minced
¾ cup stock or water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup minced green onions
2 tbl butter, melted
5 dozen cleaned crawfish heads

Make a roux with the oil and flour. Add onions and celery and cook until tender, stirring constantly. Mince or grind the remaining half of the crawfish tails and add to the roux-onion mixture. 

Add the stock, salt, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, green onions and butter. Combine thoroughly, adjusting the consistency with more stock or more breadcrumbs as needed.  It should be the consistency of thick stuffing

Fill each head with stuffing. Roll in flour and bake at 350o for 15 minutes, or fry in hot oil until the stuffing is golden brown.