During Easter, it is a tradition for Louisianians to have family crawfish boils. Just flipping through my personal Instagram and Facebook sites, I see friends who now live out of state, ship live crawfish and do a boil for their family and friends. So as you can see, no matter the price, we love these little crustaceans!
What is a “boil?” There are so many definitions to this term, but from where I am from, it means a large bounty of seafood, family and friends, and a large amount of libations. But to be more technical, boils can differ from one family to another. But what is common between all is the beautifully seasoned, red crawdaddies. We all learned our techniques from watching and observing our parents, uncles, close family friends, and even random new acquaintances.
Seasoning is very important to each person’s way of boiling their favorite seafood. For me, as stated above, I learned from close Cajun friends down in the Kramer/Bayou Boeuf area. They taught my uncle and then he taught me. There are so many different seasoning combinations on the market. The brand I use is Chackbay Crab and Shrimp Boil. Everyone ask me, “why don’t you use Zatarains or Louisiana?” It’s simple, I was never taught to use them. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious seasonings but for me, I have my recipe and I’m not going to stray away from it.
The next best thing about the crawfish boils is all the extra “fixings.” The main staples for any boil are new red potatoes, garlic, corn, lemon, onions, and sausage. I’ve seen many extras added. For example, sweet potatoes, artichokes, canned green beans, canned/whole pineapple, hot dogs, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and mushrooms are just a few items that people throw in their boil. But remember earlier, I said I learned from other family and friends? One of those things I learned to add to my boils is the “Lil Smokies” and “Lil Smokies filled with cheese” instead of doing links of smoked sausage. This has been a game changer for me. I adopted this addition after going to my first Easter Crawfish boil with Connie’s family (of course, they are Boudreauxs – can’t get any more Cajun than that!). Don’t knock it until you try it!
The Louisiana crawfish season starts as early as November through about June. Pricing can start from $5 a pound live to sometimes $0.99 a pound if you’re lucky! Crawfish comes in sacks at an average weight of 30-40 lbs. One of the keys to the boil is the cleaning. Some people “purge” crawfish, meaning they rinse the crawfish then pour salt. The thought behind this technique is to make the crawfish “excrete” or clean out the colon. The “colon” or the gut is the black line on the back of the tail meat. For me, the only thing I do is several rinses to “clean” the bugs in a tub of water with a strainer. There has been research done by LSU showing that “salt purging” does not really do what people claim it does. So why waste money on the extra salt!
Now you’re wondering, “so how do you do your boil?” Well, here’s how! I fill a crawfish pot up half way (mine is an 80 qt) with water, 1 can of salt, 1.5 bags of seasoning, then bring it to a boil. Once to a boil, in the strainer basket I pour in the cleaned/strained crawfish, garlic, potatoes, onions, and sausage. I place the basket into the boiling water. Once it gets back to a boil, I then add the corn, and let it boil for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes of boiling, I shut down the burner and let it soak. This is where it gets its spice! The longer the soak, the spicier the crawfish. I usually let it soak for at least 25 minutes. Once done, I lift the basket out and let it strain back into the pot. With the table set with newspaper and plastic covering I pour the bounty over and then the best part — EAT AND ENJOY!!!!!