I have been to a few crawfish boils since moving to the Deep South over a decade ago. Crawfish boils are very popular in this area of the country, but particularly in Louisiana. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana was reigned “Crawfish Capital of the World” in 1959 for the farming done there. The state also has designated the shellfish as its state crustacean (there are only 3 other states that also have one-Oregon, Maryland, and Maine). Generally, from February-June, crawfish is the guest of honor at every festival and backyard barbeque everywhere.
Crawfish, also known as mudbugs, were foreign to me when I first moved to the area. They are popular on the Gulf Coast and Texas because they live in the mud of the bayous. For the most part, crawfish are the smaller version of the lobster. Unlike my Maryland roots and learning to mallet to death a crab, crawfish are easier to get to. They snap in the middle and the fat is at the head and the (little bit) of meat is at the tail. A good crawfish boil depends on the amount of people you are entertaining, but the number to aim for is 40lbs of crawfish or 2-3 lbs a person (but preferably much) more.
Buy the crawfish in the morning from a reputable seafood company. As aforementioned, how much you buy is up to the number attending the party or festival. Make sure you’ve got a cooler with you. The first part to any crawfish boil (and crab-eating too) is beer. What else should you be doing while waiting for the meal to cook? Drinking (we like Abita’s Andygator, if you have it locally). I can only say from experience that it’s part of the party. It just is. Throw down plenty of newspaper on the tables and grab the propane to get started. In a very large stockpot, add water, sliced corn on the cob, red potatoes, some (Zatarain’s) crab boil, and a box of salt. (Don’t forget the stirring spoon!) I have heard of others putting in mushrooms and onions, but the barbecues I’ve attended have not. Let the vegetables cook and then add the crawfish and andouille sausage next. How spicy the one-pot meal will be is completely a personal preference with the spices used. In my neck of the woods, we use Old Bay for our seafood. In the South (and especially Louisiana), it’s Tony Chachere’s. Let the crawfish and vegetables sit for 30 minutes or so in the broth.
That’s it! As with many things, there is a 1,001 ways to do something. Experiment with the recipe to find your liking and enjoy! And remember-don’t forget the beer! 🙂