My in-laws the Boyer’s, Clayton and Jeannette, who have made this for us on many special occasions, handed down this recipe to me the last time we visited New Orleans in 2008. The last time the whole family was in Who Dat Nation, we were celebrating Bryan’s high school graduation and in May, this is perfect crawfish season. Typically, live crawfish are used to make this bisque, which, I must say is one of the most time consuming recipes at home, Clayton and Jeannette can attest to that, he said it was the last time he was making this one, but we have heard him say that before!
With lent just around the corner starting on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17, 2010), the day after Mardi Gras, seafood becomes a huge sell for restaurants, seafood markets, and grocery stores. Moreover, live crawfish start coming into season soon too, with cooler temperatures still in the air, this bisque is a real treat and event to make as well.
If you cannot get live crawfish in your area, I have seen some whole boiled and frozen crawfish sold in 10 or 15-pound bags in some grocery seafood departments. Some Internet seafood houses out of the Gulf Coast also will ship live crawfish, yet it is quite expensive. If you cannot get them in the shell, however, frozen crawfish tails can also be found in many seafood markets, but the stuffed heads will have to be omitted, as in this traditional recipe. In addition, the crawfish fat will be eliminated if not getting the live crawfish, some flavor will be lost, but tail meat typically does have a little of the fat included.
Still, stuffed heads or not, this recipe is fantastic. You can substitute making crawfish balls with the stuffing portion of the recipe and adding them to the bisque, but you have to be careful they do not break apart. However, adding the crawfish balls at the time of service would eliminate this issue.
A few ingredients not found in the original recipe, but that I added is the brandy and heavy cream. Most great bisques that I have had the pleasure of tasting typically are finished with a bit of brandy and cream. Therefore, I have included these two ingredients for finishing this bisque as well.
|40||Lb.||Crawfish, live, boiled|
|6||Each||Green onions, divided|
|1 ½||Tbsp||Tomato paste|
|2 ½||Cups||Crawfish tails, ground|
|Stuffed Crawfish Heads|
|2 ½||Cups||Crawfish tails, ground|
|As needed||All-Purpose Flour|
|Making the bisque|
|1.||Use 1 sack crawfish (about 40 lbs) and scald in almost boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain and peel crawfish and save the crawfish fat in a separate bowl. Clean about 200 heads and reserve for later to stuff.|
|2.||To make soup, grind the onions, four of the green onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley. Make a roux with the oil and flour and stir until browned, slightly darker than a blond color, then add the ground seasonings and cook on low heat until onions are translucent, or about 20 minutes.|
|3.||Add the tomato paste, crawfish fat, stir well, and continue to sauté on low heat for another 20 minutes.|
|4.||Add the hot seafood stock, whisking in to smooth consistency, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer.|
|5.||Add the ground crawfish tails, then add the brandy and cream, stirring well. Then add the baked crawfish heads (see below)*, stirring gently. Then simmer on low heat for 20 more minutes, stirring gently every so often. Season to taste with the salt and cayenne pepper, and then garnish with the remaining two green onions, chopped. (If making crawfish balls instead, add them to the bowls just before service.)|
|To make the stuffed crawfish heads*|
|1.||Grind onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley. Sauté crawfish tails and ground seasonings in hot oil then cool.|
|2.||Add the crawfish fat and eggs then mix in the breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.|
|3.||Stuff the reserved and cleaned crawfish heads. Dip the stuffed section of the heads in flour and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes in a 400° F oven.|