By: Abigail Abesamis, Mar 26, 2019
It’s crawfish season, and in New Orleans that means the return of spring and crawfish boils, the latter of which bring friends and family together around newspaper-topped tables covered with a heap of spiced seafood, sausage and vegetables – all eaten with your hands. It’s a longtime tradition that dates back to when the Cajuns first arrived in Louisiana in 1700s.
James Reedy, executive sous chef at fine dining destination Brennan’s of Houston, grew up in Louisiana watching his father host traditional crawfish boils, so they remind him of home and family. “It’s always such a fun activity to do with family and friends,” Reedy told me.
At Brennan’s of Houston, Texas ingredients are combined with Creole flavors to create updated classics. This includes reimagining crawfish boil leftovers as Creole-inspired dishes like Breaux Bridge crawfish enchiladas, Louisiana crawfish pies, crawfish boudin (sausage) stuffed quail and Louisiana crawfish boil ravioli.
A few of these dishes currently grace the dinner menu at Brennan’s of Houston, including the Louisiana crawfish boil ravioli that’s filled with crawfish boil staples – andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes and boiled corn – and served with a crawfish sauce. The crawfish boudin stuffed quail features a roasted Bandera, Texas quail stuffed with Louisiana crawfish boudin and corn maque choux (smothered corn), served with a pepper jelly glaze.
At home, Reedy makes crawfish boils for his friends and family at least 2-3 times each year. As for must-have essentials to have on hand, Reedy said, “Good crawfish are a must! In Louisiana we call them ‘selects.’ That is what you want – if you can find them.” He added that large ice chests and multiple burners and pots are also important to have on hand.
Simply prepared by throwing crawfish, spices and other ingredients (depending on who’s making it, this can include corn, potatoes and shrimp) into a large pot and boiling away, it’s this cooking process that makes for tasty leftovers. “Everything is steamed together so there is such rich and delicious flavor infused into all of the components,” said Reedy. “There is no dry or radiant heat to dry anything out, so leftovers are very easy to repurpose.”
For the crawfish, Reedy detailed that they’re usually peeled and turned into etouffee at home, but they can also be used in a pasta dish or bisque. Corn can be turned into maque choux, added to a crawfish bisque, or used to make cornbread. Potatoes can be used for a potato salad (recipe below) or potato soup. And sausage makes a great addition to any of these leftover-fueled dishes.
Breaux Bridge Crawfish Potato Salad
Recipe courtesy of Brennan’s of Houston
2 fingerling potatoes
Fresh Louisiana crawfish tails
1 shallot (diced small)
1 small bell pepper (diced small)
1 celery stalk (diced small)
1/4 c crispy bacon (chopped, optional)
1/4 c boiled egg (finely chopped)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
2/3 c mayonnaise
1/4 c Creole mustard
1/2 c pickled okra (diced small)
1/4 c pickled okra brine
1/2 bunch green onions (chopped)
salt, pepper and Creole seasoning, to taste
3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
Blanch potatoes until tender, then chill.
In a sauté pan, sauté Creole seasoned crawfish tails in grapeseed oil, then chill.
In the same pan with grapeseed oil, sauté shallots, bell pepper and celery until tender, then chill.
In a large bowl add potatoes, shallots, bell pepper, celery, bacon, okra and egg.
Add mayonnaise, Creole mustard, okra brine and lemon juice, and mix gently until well incorporated.
Fold in crawfish tails and green onions. Season to taste.