A boil is a real event, so make this meal when you have ample time and lots of friends to share it with. Traditionally, participants peel leftover uneaten crawfish so that the hosts can save the tails for many other delicious crawfish dishes, like etoufees, salads, and pies. You can do the boil inside on the stove or outdoors on a grill or on a propane-fueled burner.
While it’s typical to measure five pounds of crawfish per guest, it’s also easy to assume that, with so many other ingredients, this recipe will easily satisfy eight people. There are excellent sources for ordering crawfish delivered by air freight. Most purveyors send them already boiled, and if that’s how you receive them, follow the recipe but add the boiled crawfish as you turn off the heat and let the pot sit for 15-20 minutes.
- From My New Orleans: The Cookbook by Chef John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 package Zatarain’s Crab Boil spices
- 5 lemons, halved
- 3 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 5 whole heads garlic, halved crosswise
- 5 small onions, halved
- 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
- 3 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 3 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 4-inch lengths
- 20 small red bliss potatoes
- 8 ears corn, shucked and halved
- 8 whole artichokes, untrimmed
- 20 pounds whole crawfish, rinsed with water
- 1 pound button mushrooms
1. Fill a very large pot with 10 gallons water, leaving plenty of room for all the other ingredients. Bring water to a boil with the kosher salt, boiling spices, lemons, cayenne, garlic, onions, celery, and bell peppers. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Now add the smoked sausage, potatoes, corn, and artichokes and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Next add the crawfish and mushrooms and allow the pot to simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the crawfish sit for 15-20 minutes before straining everything from the boiling liquid.
4. A large colander will make it easier to fish out all the good bits (crawfish, vegetables) from the pot and dump them onto a picnic table well covered with newspaper (preferably The Times-Picayune). Then strain the last juicy bits from the pot (a two-person job) and feast while drinking Abita Amber beer.