Hedonistic crawfish boil, topped with etouffee…!

Crawfish Etouffee

I know, it’s been a month since the last post on Muffin Top! March was a crazy month with a lot of business-oriented travel. In terms of food, that meant a lot of rushed and convenient meals at home resting between trips…and then a lot of rushed and convenient meals on the road. But we’re back. It’s April. And good news: it’s crawfish season.

We have a crawfish boil every year–an homage to family roots in Louisiana. We began our tradition tentatively several years ago, not knowing at first where to order live crawfish, and treading through the logistics carefully. We did our research and found the Louisiana Crawfish Company–every year they deliver 100+ pounds of fresh, live crawfish to us, with nary a dead shellfish (impressive).

Just make sure to have them delivered the same day as your boil, they don’t keep very long at all! We hunt down the outdoor burner at a local party rental place, and have industrial-sized boiling pots from our local Smart and Final. The list goes on. But we’ve got that list down pat.

And now we have our own tradition, resembling those of my husband’s childhood. He boils the crawfish, and I make the etouffee halfway through the boil. The organization is now like second nature, and the boil proceeds with a breezy familiarity, despite the hustle and bustle and occasional wayward crawfish making his way to freedom. We do sometimes wonder if one or two make it, as we don’t live too far from a creek.


Crawfish boils are a jolly occasion. I love cooking, as you know, but I especially love food as a center of social gatherings. And there’s just something about getting an order of live crawfish, boiling them along with potatoes and ears of corn in a spicy concoction, spreading them out in a large pile on a table, and then, communally, shelling each one.

Crawfish pile

Food tastes better when your friends are a part of the cooking process, when there is a community around the eating. Mrmmm. And not just because it makes shelling go faster! (Seriously, when you’ve got over 100 pounds of crawfish, it takes several hours to plow through it as a crowd, let alone as an individual).

There’s always a communal bowl on the table–not for the shells, but for tail meat. We make sure everyone knows to keep shelling and filling the bowl with tail meat. Don’t stop shelling! we joke. Keep filling that bowl! Because that bowl of crawfish tails becomes…etouffee.

Oh yes. Etouffee, a Creole dish of butter smothered crawfish, is my favorite culinary part of the boil. There’s something about the red crawfish stacked in piles on the table, the cheerful hubbub of shelling, everyone focused on getting that tail meat out that makes it one of my favorite annual occasions. But nothing beats the etouffee part of the boil for me. I eagerly eye the communal bowl–and as soon as there’s at least four handfuls in that bowl, voila! I whisk it off to the kitchen and disappear for about half an hour as I make the etouffee.

It takes about as long as it takes to make basmati rice. So start the rice when you start making the etouffee, and you’ve got a perfect pairing at the end: rich buttery smothered crawfish paired with rice. Say it with me: mrmmmmmmmm.

And–later on, the crawfish tails that don’t make it into the etouffee? You pack that up in little ziploc bags, and give to your guests to take home. No one ever seems to get sick of crawfish. One of our guests also takes home a garbage full of shells each year–he makes crawfish butter with the stash, in an illustration of the adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The gorgeous crawfish keeps delivering!

By the way, there’s never ever any leftover etouffee.

Recipe for crawfish etouffee follows after the jump…

Crawfish Etouffee

INGREDIENTS (for 4 servings, you can easily double this)

1 stick butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 pound crawfish tails
2 bay leaves
(NOTE: I personally HATE bell peppers, and so they’re excluded here. But it is very traditional to include them–if you do, chop an equal amount to celery and add them at the same time).

1 T flour
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
2 T chopped parsley
3 T chopped green onions

1. Melt butter over medium-high heat in a large saute pan (I use my Le Creuset braising pan). Add onions, celery, and saute until soft and golden, about 10-12 minutes. Add crawfish and bay leaves, reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally, cook until the crawfish throw off liquid, 10-12 minutes.

2. Dissolve flour in water. Add to crawfish and season with salt and cayenne. Stir until mixture thickens, 4 minutes. Add parsley and green onions, cook for about 4 minutes.

3. Remove bay leaves and serve with rice.

13 responses to “Hedonistic crawfish boil, topped with etouffee…!

  1. You guys rock!! My friends and I have a crawfish boil every summer. It is slowly becoming a tradition and this year it will be part of me and my fiance’s wedding reception . I have never seen a happier place then the table after that big pot of craws comes out of the pot. Awesome!

  2. Great recipe. I’m glad to find someone else who detests bell pepper. Being from Louisiana, I grew up with it. But I never ever use it.

  3. Hi Christine. My wife and I are big fan of your blog postings. We also have a yearly crawfish boil (http://rayandandrea.blogspot.com/2006/05/week-of-may-14-crawfish-boil.html) every year and w get our crawfish also from Louisiana Crawfish Company. Yum!

  4. Hi! One of my most vivid childhood memories is of a crawfish boil…all the crawfishy goodness I could handle dipped in lemon butter (oh my goodness I’m drooling, and it’s been like 25 years since I’ve tasted this).

  5. i think i’m going to camp out downstream from you next year just so i can catch the wayward crawfishies. damn them for trying to escape. i’ll eat them. that’ll teach them. btw, i’m going to save the etoufee recipe for future consumption.

  6. I noticed from your picture of the crawfish on the table that you lacked the other KEY ingredients used here in Louisiana. While they vary with taste and tradition, crawfish are ALWAYS cooked, dumped, and eaten with things such as garlic, onions, red potatoes, corn, and sausage. Sliced lemons are also always there (looks like you may have a few in your pic). Whole mushrooms are common, and I drop raw whole eggs in mine for nice cajun boiled eggs. Some also put in chicken, celery, carrots, and who knows what else. The main thing is you MUST have veggies and other ingredients cooked right with the crawfish and dumped on the table with it, or it isn’t a genuine crawfish boil.

  7. Rob D.: It’s a happy annual event!

    David D: I feel like such a rebel, excluding that bell pepper–but I just can’t stand it. I’m glad you understand!

    RayK: I checked out your website–awesome!

    Beth: We don’t even think about adding the butter on top of all this goodness–but yum!

    ihategreenpeas: I think you can use the same recipe with shrimp, if crawfish is hard for you to manage. And yes–I can’t help but think that a wayward crawfish from crawfish boils past may have made it to the creek below.

    James C. Guy: Ah yes! Agreed on the veggies. We did have veggies (in the bottom left corner of the picture, you’ll see the hint of a potato and of course you see the lemons–and we did have corn in our boil as well). This picture was taken on early in the boil (before my hands got too messy for the camera–the potatoes weren’t quite done yet, and neither was the corn. So veggies stayed in the pot even though crawfish was dumped onto the table…We dump lots of lemons, onions, corn, and potatoes in our boil, too. Sounds like you have a great variety! We’ve never done the eggs or carrots or sausage.

  8. Hey, I’d like to get in touch with the Rob guy… I want to know how the crawfish boil for the wedding reception. That’s exactly what we wanted to do for our reception, but I wasn’t sure how it’d work out. I wanted to ask how it went! I’m in Louisiana so crawfish are easy to come by, and a bonding tool when people don’t know each other. haha. Plus, we just want an excuse to throw down… So if you guys have any way to contact him, can you send my email address his way! thanks so much! jen dot johnson 1214 at gmail dot com! 🙂

  9. Pingback: crawfish in san francisco? « Muffin Top

  10. CrawfishStop.com has better prices.

  11. I’ve had a crawfish boil for the past 7 years. Now we are too big to host at our house and we’re looking for a park or someplace similar to host. The trouble we are finding is that it is hard to find a place with a hose and most parks in SF do not allow propane burners unless you have a catering company. Any ideas?

    • Ack–not sure. We’ve always just hosted at our house. Is there any way to move it out into your street or a friend’s street (if they live on a cul de sac, you’ve scored).

  12. Wow, u talk about humane ways of slauthering cows in another post, do u really believe that boiling live crawfish is humane? That is just hipocritical

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