Friday, February 14, 2014

Crawfish Bisque

This is my favorite dish in the entire universe. It's the sine qua non of New Orleans cooking. It's primus inter pares. It's nonpareil. It's… Awwwww, you get the idea! If you've never had it, stop what you're doing right now and make this dish immediately. Well, at least get started by going online and ordering some crawfish tails from one of the many internet purveyors, if you can't get crawfish locally. I'm not kidding. Order 4 pounds of crawfish NOW. When they arrive, come back to this recipe and make it. Serve it for dinner and your family/friends will apotheosize you for it, I promise.


Yes, it's a lot of work. Yes, crawfish are kinda expensive if you're not somewhere where they're readily available. Yes, it's not perfectly authentic unless you put the stuffing in crawfish heads (actually the carapace behind the head) instead of making balls/boulettes. Ignore all these factors and just make this stuff already. Here's how.







2 pounds crawfish tails (leave whole)

1/2 pound butter (Substitute EVOO, if you must, but I don't recommend it.)

1-1/2 cups flour

1 onion (chopped fine)

3 stalks celery (chopped fine)

1 bell pepper (chopped fine)

1 whole garlic (chopped fine)

1/3 cup tomato sauce

3 quarts stock (crawfish, if possible, otherwise just do the best you can)

1 bunch shallots (chopped fine)

1/2 cup parsley (chopped fine)

A coupla bay leaves

Cayenne, salt, and pepper (to taste)



2 pounds crawfish tails (chopped semi-fine)

1 onion (chopped semi-fine)

3 stalks celery (chopped semi-fine)

1 bell pepper (chopped semi-fine)

1 whole garlic (chopped semi-fine)

1/2 cup parsley (chopped semi-fine)

1/2 stick (1/8 lb.) butter (Substitute EVOO, if you must, but I don't recommend it.)

3 eggs, beaten

1~2 cups bread crumbs

Cayenne, salt, and pepper (to taste)

Optional: About 50 cleaned crawfish heads(carapaces) (See prep choices later in the instructions for heads vs. balls (boulettes), if you don't have access to crawfish heads)


To make the bisque:

In a large (dutch oven is perfect) cast iron (substitute if you must) pot, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and, using a wire whisk, stir constantly to make a medium roux. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes. Add crawfish tails and tomato sauce. Slowly add stock a little at a time until you get a sauce-like consistency. More may be needed as cooking progresses to keep the bisque from becoming too thick; but it's supposed to be hearty. Ya don't want it to be as thin as soup, more of a stew-like consistency. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce to simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the tails from settling and scorching. During the last ten minutes, add the heads (or balls), green onions, parsley, and season to taste.


To make the stuffing for heads/balls:

Grind crawfish tails, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley in a food processor to the point that individual pieces are small but not pureed. Add butter, eggs, and enough breadcrumbs to hold the mixture together but not so much that it becomes bready. You wanna taste crawfish, not bread. Season to taste using cayenne, salt, and pepper. Then use prep1 or prep 2


Prep 1, if you have crawfish heads(carapaces): Preheat oven to 350 F. Put stuffing mixture into crawfish heads(carapaces). Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes or until lightly browned, then set aside for later addition to the bisque.


Prep 2, if you don't have crawfish heads(carapaces): Form the stuffing mix into balls (boulettes). I'd recommend about the size of a ping-pong ball or a Swedish meatball kinda size. A tennis ball is definitely too big; a marble is too small. Ok? Sautee them briefly to brown the outside and marry the ingredients, then set aside for later addition to the bisque.


Serve in a soup bowl over white rice with a crusty baguette. Wine? Crawfish bisque is a dish which is robust enough to eat with strong, red wines. Go for it.