Everything You Need to Know About Hosting a Crawfish Boil – Texas Monthly

Flowers poking their heads out of the ground; windy weather at 70 degrees; longer days, all harbingers of spring. But Texans mark the changing of the seasons with another tradition: crawfish porridge.

Seafood boils are popular across the country, especially during the summer, with shrimp boils, crab boils, fish boils and clams providing reasons for people to gather around. a pot of steaming food outside and eating at a large community table.

In Texas and Louisiana, crawfish boils are the most popular form of the event. They usually take place from March to May, as freshwater crayfish grow best in warmer temperatures and with plenty of rain. Traditionally, crawfish are cooked with corn, sausage, potatoes and spices, then set out on a long table for friends, family and neighbors to enjoy a messy afternoon.

“Crawfish are just pretty little things,” says Todd Maddox, owner of Plooky’s Cajun Boiling Pot in Canyon Lake, which was featured in season six of weird eye. “You can look at them and they’re either cute or ugly. You get both reactions.

Crawfish boils date back to the Cajun and Creole communities of western Louisiana; they then spread to southeast Texas. And now, they’ve been adopted statewide as the perfect excuse to host a casual evening in the garden when the weather turns nice.

“When you have a friend who knows how to boil, you get together with beer and boil them,” Maddox explains. “When they’re done, everyone sits down and eats until they’re full. It’s a social thing, the camaraderie that gathers around the pot and the table, just to eat.

Whether you’re a beginner or a regular host who just needs some new ideas, this guide will prepare you to throw the best boil ever.

Sstationery

You will need a large pot with basket (sixty pints is fine), which costs about $80 to $180 and can be purchased at Home Depot, Walmart, or Lowe’s. You will also need a gas or propane burner large enough to hold the pot. Have a cooler handy to clean up mudbugs – a crawfish nickname acquired for being, well, dirty.

It’s not a real crawfish boil unless the finished product is gutted so the hands can reach out and grab anything that speaks to the stomach, so you’ll also need a long table ( six feet or more, depending on how many guests you expect) covered with newspaper, butcher paper, or even a fun tablecloth. It can be helpful to put buckets at the ends of the table for people to throw the shells away. Since this is a feast without silverware or plates, you can never have too many paper napkins to wipe your hands with.

How to Boil Crawfish Texas Style
Bayou Best Crawfish Mudbugs.Courtesy of Bayou Best Crawfish

Crayfish supply

There are many places to acquire shellfish, including your local HEB or fish market. While many crayfish eaten in Texas are shipped from Louisiana, for the freshest crayfish possible, consider buying directly from a farm in Texas, such as Bayou best crayfish in sour lake, Southeast Texas Crawfish Farm in Hamshire, or Texas Crawdaddy to Winny.

Johnny Horne, owner of Cajun Tex restaurants in Marshall and Hallsville and known as Crazy Cajun Johnny on TikTok, recommends buying three to five pounds of live crawfish per person, depending on how hungry your guests are. But beware, crawfish prices have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. This season, crawfish currently average about $5 a pound, according to Carol Huntsberger, owner of Quality Seafood Market in Austin. She said that was due to low supply due to multiple hurricanes in Louisiana, including Ida, as well as frosts in February and March.

Appetizers

You’re going to want something to snack on while the crawfish are boiling. To avoid too many rumbling stomachs, prepare this Texas caviar to serve with tortilla chips. Plus, it’s not a Southern shindig without something fried, so add those quiet puppies or some classic fried okra.

Crawfish recipe

Horne and his wife, Donna, opened Cajun Tex in Marshall in 2007 and have since opened a second location in Hallsville, just west of town. The restaurant serves po’boys, rib eye steaks and gumbo. But make no mistake: the most popular thing on the menu is the deeply spiced crayfish. Cook with caution!

Boiled crayfish

Serves about 8-10 people (or, as Horne jokes, 4-6 Cajuns)

4 pounds of Louisiana Fish Fry Crayfish, shrimp and boiled crab Spice up
2 cups Louisiana Fried Fish Liquid crab boil
2 cups minced garlic
1 pound butter
6 giant yellow onions, halved
4 ounces ghost chili powder
6 lemons, halved
30 to 40 pounds live crawfish, cleaned
5 pounds corn on the cob, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 pounds small red potatoes, halved
5 pounds andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

  1. Fill a 50 quart jar halfway with water. Combine the spices, liquid crab boil, garlic, butter, onions, ghost pepper powder and lemons in the pot with the water. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the crayfish and boil for 8 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the corn, potatoes and sausages. Let everything soak for at least 25 minutes – 35 minutes if you want it really hot and 45 minutes if you go really hot.
  4. Drain everything and throw it on the table.

Label

For beginners, eating crawfish can be the most daunting part, especially since it’s not the most graceful experience. Use your hands to separate the tail from the rest of the body, peel off the first bone of the tail, then squeeze or suck the meat. If you’re feeling adventurous, open up the crawfish’s body and suck the yellow stuff – an organ known as “crayfish butter” and considered the best part – out of the head.

If you need a visual aid, check out this TikTok Tutorial of Lotus Seafood, a seafood restaurant with four locations in and around Houston.

Beer and Wine Pairings

Whether you prefer beer, wine or cider, you’ll need something cool and refreshing to wash down all that spice and party around a fire all night long. We asked Texas monthlyAaron Chamberlain, beer expert, and Jessica Dupuy, wine expert, for their suggestions of Texas drinks that pair perfectly with mudbugs.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company Spring Bock

Bock, 6.9 percent ABV

This dark ale made its debut in 1998 and is a welcome guest on any crawfish boil. Its malty backbone is strong enough to withstand any level of heat. As an added bonus, it’s party ready and available in packs of twelve.

St. Elmo Brewing Company Carl

Kölsch-style beer, 4.6% ABV

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more drinkable brew than a well-made Kölsch, a lager and ale hybrid hailing from Cologne, Germany. St. Elmo’s Carl has a crunchy bite and delicate flavor that makes it dangerously crushable.

Tupps Brewery Juice Pack

Dry Hopped Pale Ale, 5.5% ABV

Nothing ruins a crawfish boil faster than a guest drinking four double IPAs and knocking over the kettle. Fortunately, McKinney’s Tupps Brewery has Juice Pack, a lager that provides that dose of hop without spoiling the festivities. It is balanced, neither too bitter nor too fruity, and will go well with any spread.

#1 Texas Goaltender

Austin-based Texas Keeper Cider uses American apples inherited from a fifth-generation upstate New York farmer to create a variety of styles, including its No. 1 flagship. With hints of pear Bosc and summer melon, this blend of different apple varieties offers a combination of fruitiness, sparkle and a light touch of sweetness.

Farm Vineyards Buddy

Brimming with floral and tropical fruit aromas, this lovely little spritzer is made from 100% Malvasia Bianca and delivers the same peachy flavors you’d expect from a crisp Moscato d’Asti in the summer. The hint of sweetness in this off-dry sparkling adds the perfect balance to spicy dishes.

2021 Lost Draw Cellars Sparkling Pinot Meunier

For a little extra volume with a bit of red berry backbone, this pink bubbly is just the thing. Made from one of the classic Champagne grape varieties, Pinot Meunier, this wine shows the potential of a grape variety typically grown in a cooler climate. This wine is very dry, with a hint of summer strawberries and a slight liveliness on the palate.

Dessert

The best way to combat the spice is with a little sweetness. Make pecan snickerdoodles or blueberry pies to share with your guests.

Leftovers

While we don’t expect you’ll have a lot of leftovers, if you find yourself with extra crawfish, you can make Cajun Tex Swamp Nachos, a favorite among East Texas locals.

To make the snack, mix 6 ounces of leftover crawfish tails and 4 ounces of diced blood sausage with the Cajun seasoning. Char the mixture on the grill before placing it on the tortilla chips. Top with 6 ounces of queso, diced tomatoes, banana peppers and green onions.

If swamp nachos aren’t your thing, use leftovers to make a traditional stew or add crawfish meat to a jambalaya risotto or seafood gumbo.


video: crawfish, blood sausage, cracklins—oh my!

look Texas Country Reporter profile on Big Doobie’s Food Truck, a Cajun favorite on the Texas coast.

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