Traditional Southern Crawfish Boil
Crawfish are in season during spring; specifically in Louisiana the season for wild caught crawfish runs from mid-January through early-July. I was having a difficult time tracking down whole live crawfish on the West Coast so I did what any normal person does these days, I turned to the internet. I was able to overnight live crawfish from Louisiana to my parents’ house in New Jersey where I would be staying for the week. I got them from a website called cajuncrawfish.com, although there are several other similar sites as well. This may have you asking why I went through all this trouble just for a crawfish boil. Well, they are delicious and that’s just how I am; once I have my mind set on trying something, I’m going to do it.
My brother graduated from the University of Alabama and frequented crawfish boils hosted by fraternities on their expansive lawns so he served as my authenticity guide. When deciding how much crawfish to buy, you should plan for about 3 pounds a person for an entrée and 5 pounds if your guests are really hungry. Grapefruit is added to the boil because the citrus helps to break down the shells of the crawfish and keep the meat tender.
To eat the cooked crawfish, twist and pull the tail from the head then suck the juices from the head (optional) and discard. Next, pinch the tail and bite or pull the meat from the shell. I like to rinse and set aside some of the crawfish shells to make homemade seafood stock.
2 (2-ounce) packages crawfish boil seasoning mix (I use Zatarain’s)
1 medium grapefruit, halved
2 pounds small yellow and purple new potatoes
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
6 ears of corn, husks removed and halved
15 pounds live Louisiana crawfish, cleaned
Bring an extra-large pot fitted with a basket strainer and filled about halfway with water to a rolling boil. Add the seasoning mix and stir to combine, return to a rolling boil. Squeeze the grapefruit halves into the water then add them to the pot along with the potatoes, onion, and corn. Next, gently add the crawfish and cover the pot. Depending on the size of the pot, this may have to be done in batches.
Cook for 5 minutes then remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes so the crawfish absorb the flavor of the spices. Lift the strainer and pour the cooked crawfish out on a newspaper-lined table outside.
Serves 4 to 5.