On March 25th CajunGrocer.com contacted me and asked if I’d like 10 pounds of mudbugs for ‘review’. Oh, let me think, YES. Remember them? They were the ones that sent Meathenge Labs a Turducken, yeah that’s them.
The little guys come delivered to your door alive, moving, and making this clicking sound like rice crispies in milk. The party wasn’t until Saturday, said crawdads arrived on Friday, not a problem. Hose them down, toss into cooler with a bag of ice (drain open), easy enough. But it didn’t say whether to leave them all tied up in their sack or not, I decided to let them out in to the cooler. Free range crawdads … dumb Californian. Wanna come see how it turned out?
Note: Ahem,I still haven’t got his new software figured out quite yet. It looks as though I have too many pictures for my words. So, do some reading, looking, then reading. Or just look at the pretty pictures, they’re the same as the words.
The day before Jlee, Chilebrown and myself sat down at google and spent some time compiling what we thought was the correct way to deal with these crawfish. First off, I read that 10 pounds is only supposed to feed 2 people. I’d planned on inviting all kinds of friends over, but will have to keep it small. “I’ll grill a dozen pork chops, just in case.” says Biggles’ mind. In retrospect, 10 pounds will feed a lot more than just 2 people, we’re not Cajuns!
I also realized that my 3 gallon pot would not be enough, nope. I needed 5 gallons or more. Off to the hardware store where I bought one of those turkey deep fry kits, could very well come in handy, eh? This is actually a pretty important point, you truly need to have a pot & cooker that can deal with these large loads of food. Sure i could have done it in stages, but that would have really been a pain in the ass and would have detracted from the fun we were supposed to be having.
So, along with this large pot, you’ll need a large propane rig to heat 5 gallons of water. I bought a used outdoor propane stove from Chilebrown, has 2 66,000 btu burners. It got the water going in 30 minutes, that’s pretty darned quick. Sure I could have used the turkey burner I’d just purchased, but it didn’t look nearly as big as my stove did. Plus I would be bending over all day. Nope, I opted for the larger stove.
10 pounds live crawfish (supplied from Cajun Grocer)
Seafood Boil is supplied!
3 potatos (more if you like)
3 ears of corn
Fresh garlic (a lot)
2 fresh lemons
2 loaves of Frenched bread – Fer eatin’!
Corn isn’t in season, so that’s out.
Prep everything in large portions. Garlic, just smoosh cloves (I did an entire head of garlic), quarter onions, leave taters whole.
In short, cook vegetables. Remove vegetables, add bugs. Cook for a few minutes, add vegetables and let soak, easy peasy.
Once the guests have arrived, have them clean the bugs. These are farm raised and it’s said they don’t need to be “purged”. I don’t know what that is, but it involves a lot of salt, water & rinsing.
We didn’t have a clue as to how these things are cleaned, so we made it up as we went. As you can see, they’ve been set free, off they went too. There was quite a bit of jocularity going on at this point, great fun.
Meathead did an excellent job of cleaning each and every one, perfectly. Even with my leaky old hose and sprayer it didn’t take too terribly long.
OH! Here’s a point that must not be overlooked. DON’T EAT THE DEAD ONES. You’ve got to sort through these guys to get the dead ones out. Not sure how you do that when cooking 800 pounds, maybe it doesn’t matter? I dunno, but we didn’t eat the dead ones. Well, okay we did eat the cooked, dead crawfish. But not the uncooked, live/dead crawfish.
Put 5 gallons of cold water in your large pot and get that on the burner. Add about a 1/3 of the boil seasoning to the water.
Once you’ve got a nice rolling boil, add onions, taters and fresh garlic. Pull vegetables before taters are done, this way you can finish them up with the bugs later.
Remove vegetables and set aside, keep warm and safe. Get your water to a rolling boil again, if it isn’t already.
Add the rest of the boil seasoning, add the halved lemons (I did a little squeeze to help them on their way). Add all the bugs, stir.
Here we find me dumping the crawfish IN, and Meathead offering up support. Such a team!
I have to admit it was a crazy few days getting things together, and I’m usually wrapped pretty tight to begin with. Cooking for a group, no matter how large or how small, something you’ve never cooked before, using methods you’ve never used before, can be tough on the nerves to say the least. Today, I own its soul.
Let crawfish simmer for about 4-5 minutes. Add semi-cooked vegetables. Turn off the fire and I let them soak for about 12 to 15 minutes. This is, what I’m told, a very important step. One wants to make sure those crawfish soak up the goodness.
Okay, so we’re getting close here. My sister lived in Nola for a few years and said that it is traditional to take an interior door, cut a hole in it, put it up on sawhorses, put a trash can under the hole, toss newspapers down and dump the bugs on the table, then eat. I want to give a hearty Thank You Very Much to Meathead for making this little version for our party. It’s so fricken cool!
While the bugs are finishing up soaking, set the table and get everything ready. My sister made a Creole Potato Salad, not sure what makes it Creole. But it was damned good and to be honest, I’d forgo the taters in the boil. They were great, but when compared to home-made potato salad? Salad all the way baby.
Earlier that day I didn’t think I had enough bugs for everyone, so I bought a dozen meaty pork chops for the grill. Crawfish, pork chops & beer, oh my!
To eat the little suckers you’re supposed to hold the body with one hand, then twist off the tail with the other. Take the head part and suck the hot “juices” out of it, toss. Crack the tail by holding between thumb and forefinger to snap the shell, dig out meat. The boil seasoning stuff really does a nice job of bringing out some good flavors. Like fava beans, “It’s a lot of work for what you get”. Good though!
From start to finish, I don’t think I or the guests have had so much fun cooking and eating together. It’s a meal where everyone can take part and it doesn’t take long to do. Then you can take the rest of the afternoon to sit in the shade, eat, drink and have a splendiferous time. Thank you to Cajun Grocer for this very fine gift, it was exceptionally well received. And thank you to my guests for making it, The Best Day Ever.