Easter signals ham, lamb and casseroles in other parts of the South, but in Louisiana, boiled crawfish is front and center. In recent years in the state, Holy Week has become the pinnacle of the crawfish harvest, with farmers working double time to meet demand and consumers often having to plunk down deposits to reserve sacks.
My Easter weekend routine likely resembles many of my fellow Bayou State residents: immediate and extended family gathered outside on a (hopefully) warm and clear spring day while sacks of live crawfish wait to be poured into roaring, spiked water.
Boiling crawfish, like so many native dishes, is highly personal — and those who boil have strong opinions on how it should be done…
Some of you might take time to purge the mudbugs. Others of you feel this is unnecessary, and just rinse them in cold water until they’re clean. Some of you use dry seasonings, while others are loyal to liquid, or use both. Some people, including a crawfish farmer I interviewed for my book Hungry for Louisiana, shake dry seasonings on the creatures after they’re fully cooked, drained and placed in an ice chest. And then there’s the decision on what to toss in the boil in addition to requisite potatoes and corn. Smoked sausage is a family favorite. This year, artichokes and Brussels sprouts are making it into our pot, too.
We’ve played around with how to boil crawfish for several years now, but we recently settled on the formula suggested by one of my husband’s work friends. It’s the best we’ve tried, and the one we plan to deploy this weekend.
Using an outdoor gas burner rig, fill a large stainless steel pot (at least 50 quart) half-full with water and turn on the burner. Add a 4.5 lb. sack of Louisiana brand crawfish boil along with an 8 oz. bottle of Louisiana liquid boil. (We quit fiddling with homemade concoctions of salt, cayenne pepper and so forth because, to me, this is day of brainless fun.) When the water comes to a boil, add longer cooking vegetables, such as potatoes and artichokes. Let them get a 15-minute head start, then add enough crawfish so that the pot is full but not overcrowded. The general rule of thumb is two quarts of water per one pound of crawfish. Allow the water to return to a boil, then turn the flame off. Add the faster-cooking accompaniments, like corn, sausage and Brussels sprouts, and let the crawfish and vegetables sit and soak for 20-30 minutes before serving.