There was a small spring-fed creek flowing across the back of my parents’ and my grandparents’ property, and it was there that I pretty much spent my summers. The small island created by the errant flow of heavy spring rains would become my “fort “ - my own private place to be.
It was there that I first learned to “fish” for crawdads, or mud puppies as we called them then, and before we knew to call them crawfish (and never “crayfish”) as their culinary standing grew. They were to be tied with a string as hauled around as entertainment and bait. Typically, we tired of the adventure early and so released the frantic crawdad back to its muddy burrow. Never, ever did I once consider eating them!
It was only much later, probably when I gained all wisdom as a teenager, that I learned just what I had been missing.
Growing up, crawfish were strictly a springtime delicacy. If we were lucky, our rice-farmer friends, would share their crawdad harvest with us, or at least allow us to come net them for ourselves.
Rice fields typically flooded in late winter, along with the rice stubble leftover from the fall harvest, became havens of crawdad habitat. Crawfish season runs January through June, with the peaks occurring March through May when you get the sweetest, fattest harvest. With today’s crawfish farms, harvest may often be extended.
We enjoy crawfish in whatever season we can get them, and one of our favorite ways is with this Classic Crawfish Étouffée, which not only showcases the sweet succulent lobster wannabes, it features some of the best of our rice.
For this recipe, I prefer using Riceland’s Gold Parboiled Perfected Long Grain White Rice. It plumps up beautifully with each rice kernel fluffing up separately. In fact, it’s the rice of choice in a number of restaurants because of its beautiful consistency and presentation.
Planning a Mardi Gras celebration? Consider making this Classic Crawfish Étouffée to wow your guests.
Classic Crawfish Étouffée
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup Wondra
- 3/4 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 chopped red or yellow bell pepper
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (or Pickapeppa)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups chicken or seafood stock
- 1 pound peeled crawfish tails (usually frozen)*
- 2 cups prepared Riceland Gold Perfected Parboiled Long Grain White Rice
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- Tabasco, optional
- In a large skillet or Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add Wonder, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring continually until a roux the color of peanut butter forms. (Save the dark roux for your gumbo.)
- Add onion, bell pepper and celery to the roux, stirring frequently until vegetables are tender.
- Add in garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cook for 2-3 minutes,.
- Add in tomato sauce, Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, paprika and salt. Cook, stirring continually, for about 5 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in salt and stock; bring to a low boil then reduce heat. Simmer until thickened, about 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in crawfish tails (and fat if you are so lucky). Reduce heat and simmer slowly 20-30 minutes.
- Stir in parsley and serve over hot cooked rice.
- Garnish with green onion and additional parsley, if desired. Sprinkle with optional dashes of Tabasco.
*If you harvest your own tails, be sure to save the fat. It adds an extra depth of flavor you just can’t get otherwise.
Post by Riceland bloger Debbie Arnold of DiningwithDebbie.net.