Crawdad Boil – Meathenge cooks mudbugs! – a review

On March 25th 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!
2 onions
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.
xo, Biggles

16 thoughts on “Crawdad Boil – Meathenge cooks mudbugs! – a review

  1. Damn, looks awesome, and I agree, they do look big.
    I’ve seen some recipes with andouille-can’t see how that would hurt things.

  2. Oh yes, some good sausage is very tasty here. I haven’t done crawfish, yet, but I do steam lobster packs with several pieces of sausage along with lobster, corn, mussels, potatoes, white wine, whatever.

  3. Oh,oh,oh — crawdads! My favorite photo of my brother and me was taken with both of us on either side of a huge plastic rubbish can, eating crawfish, at the NO Jazz&Heritage Festival. Hot sun beating down on us, great music in the background. “Pinch they tails and suck they heads,” we were told and we did.
    You did a great job with those unknown critters.
    Far as I’m concerned, it’s spicy Creole mustard and lots of scallions that make potato salad Creole.

  4. Oooooh…reminds me of the crab dinner my parents would have when we lived in Maryland. I was really little so my memory’s hazy, but I remember the newspapers and crotchety crustaceans crawling around the yard while my dad hosed them off. And the butter sauce. Oh, the butter sauce.
    Those crawfish look fantastic!

  5. Great pictorial! And WAY TOO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!!!
    A beautiful “do” with friends and critters! Although, those little fellas look too cute to eat!

  6. Hands down, best* Meathenge Labs experiment ever! Thanks again, Brother. Thank you, Cajun Grocer. Lots of love in the Boom Boom Room that afternoon. What an amazingly delicious batch of critters. Fun to play with. Fun to rip apart. Rarrrw!
    More story here:
    See more pics and a video here:
    *second best was the Chinese roasting box that made 10 gallons of turkey gravy.

  7. Sirs,
    Recently introduced to your blog and have been quietly sizing it up. Nice piece of work here, I must say. The word that best describes it is ‘focus’, providing a counterpart to the “I only eat live sprouts” blogs, bringing balance to the universe of foodies in many ways. You, and only a few others, are filling this role.
    Couldn’t resist the cookbook offer, although it may be a challenge to cook for a fellow such as yourself. If in my yard, you would be dining on Smoked Mullet, or possibly Texas-style Brisket. But in this virtual environment, rather than attempt to win you over with some more common meat, I decided you needed to taste an exemplary Crawfish recipe. Looking at your recent photos reveals that you actually know how to get crawfish out of the shell, ripping the heads open. While suckin heads is popularly romantic, alone it just leaves too much “fat” unharvested. So, I can move onto the recipe without impressing upon you the need to rip the heads open………..
    This recipe is the EASY version and is a prize winner. And it works very well with frozen tail meat available all year long. If there is a down side it is that your knife will touch vegetables, but knives wash well enough. Here it is……….
    Crawfish Pie
    Makes 8-10 3” tarts
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
    • 1/2 cup celery, minced
    • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
    • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, minced
    • 1/4 cup finely minced curly parsley, minced
    • 1/2 cup green onions, minced
    • 2 lobes garlic crushed and minced very fine
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
    • 3 tablespoons flour
    • 1 LB cooked Crawfish tailmeat
    • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    • 3/4 cup real cream
    • 2 prepared (rolled) refrigerated pie crusts
    In glass bowl combine tail meat and ½ of the Creole seasoning and mix. Remove 12-16 nice tails for garnish and set aside. Run the remainder of crawfish tails through a food processor just long enough to coarsely shred meat. Set aside
    Heat oven to 350°F. Roll pie crust to ¼-inch thickness and cut circles with a French Market coffee can. Press crust circles into 3-inch tart pans. Pierce generously with fork tines to let steam escape, then pre-bake the crusts for 8-10 minutes until light brown (Use of tin foil and pie weights helps keep shells shape, optional). Remove to cool, set aside.
    Melt butter in a large skillet. Over medium heat, sauté Celery, Red Onion, Bell Peppers and Garlic with remaining Creole seasoning. Stir occasionally until vegetables are tender. Add flour and mix very well. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded crawfish with any liquid, stirring until seized and smooth. Return to medium low heat, and cook 3 minutes more, do not let mixture brown much by scraping pan. Add the Tabasco and the cream. Add green onions and parsley. Bring to a hard simmer until thickened, stirring constantly. Check for salt, filling is going to reduce during baking, so salt level should seem low at this stage. It will not be completely set, will thicken more while baking. Remove from heat, and turn out into pre-baked pie crusts, fill to a slight crown as it shrinks some. Press 1-2 whole tailmeats down into surface of each pie.
    Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until center is bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Cool to just warm before serving, pass the Tabasco sauce.
    I’ve got the pictures, but dont have an email address to send them to. Drop me a mail and I will forward the pictures and the location you can get your pies……….

  8. I’ll second the crawfish pie recipe by Robert. It is great for us folks who don’t have access to live crawfish

  9. Holy crap! Robert, you’re awesome. Thank you sir. And thank you for the kind words, very nicely done and am proud to have someone such as yourself gazing upon my glory, this is Meathenge.
    drbiggles at cyberbilly (dot) com, I’m there hey.

  10. All respect to Robert, but never puree crawfish meat.
    Here’s an easy recipe for crawfist etoufee:
    1 lb. crawfish tails – preferably Louisiana crawfish
    1 big white onion diced
    1 stick unsalted butter
    4 cloves garlic minced – more if you like garlic
    1 bunch green onions, sliced into small rings
    Melt the butter, and add onion, garlic and white part of green onion
    Cook until onions are clear
    Add crawfish and cook just until crawfish are firm – only about 4-5 minutes (Crawfish are parboiled before packaging – already cooked)
    Remove from heat and let stand for flavors to meld.
    Serve over cooked white rice. Add lots of Tabasco or other Louisiana hot sauce.
    You can use this recipe to fill small pie shells for crawfish pies, or to fill phyllo dough triangles.
    Add mushrooms and serve it over pasta for another great dish.