Our First Crawfish Boil

March 26, 2016. Easter Sunday.

Mary made a double recipe of Treebeard’s Chicken, Sausage and Pork Tasso Jambalaya and a double batch of cornbread in our cast iron muffin pans. The day before we had made deviled eggs and bought a 29 lb. sack of crawfish at HEB for $1.97/lb and 5 lbs of headless, ez-peel shrimp.

  • 8 pcs. 3″ long frozen corn on the cob – fresh corn was not available in our local stores
  • 5 lbs, small red potatoes,
  • 24 oz. mushrooms
  • one large onion sliced in half and some celery tops
  • one pod of garlic
  • Zatarian’s Crawfish Boil, Extra Spicy plus their shrimp boil concentrate

The Plan as Executed

Crawfish table 2016 Easter 96dpiPreface:  I was assisted by Jeff and Maggie with Fang overseeing. Of course, Mary was there staging things and keeping up with the girls.
The primary reference for the plan was the crawfish recipe at http://www.gumbopages.com/food/seafood/craw-boil.html. This boil used Jeff’s ~24 qt. turkey fry pot.
  1. Washed the crawfish three times in the pot/strainer. Dumped them loose into the cooler–where they had been in the sack–onto the ice that was still in it. Added a thin layer of ice on top of them to keep them cool as the boil would start in 2-3 hours. [Loose in the cooler made it a pain to move them to the pot]
  2. Filled the boil pot about 2/3 with water.
  3. Added about 2.5 C of the seasoning mix and the onion, celery, and head of garlic. Poured in about 4 oz. Zat’s crab boil concentrate. Brought to a boil and liked the great smell that was fairly intense.
  4. Added the potatoes and cooked about 1 min/lb ~ 5 minutes. Mary checked with knife and they were close to ready.
  5. Add the frozen corn on the cob per the directions and cooked between 12 and 15 minutes as the pot returned to boiling. [note the potatoes were still not done likely as the frozen corn cooled it down too much and not enough time to complete the potatoes once it came back to a boil.]
  6. Dipped the potatoes and corn out and put into a large stock pot with water that had seasoning added for soaking. [this pot should have simmered for a while to extract the oils from the seasoning.]
  7. Boiled shrimp until 10-15 floated. Dipped them out and into warm soak pot with corn and potatoes.
  8. Added more Zat’s Extra Spicy. Brought pot back to boil.
  9. Moved potatoes and corn into a large plastic bowl that fit into the smaller blue Igloo cube cooler to serve as a faux cambro.
  10. Put shrimp on ice in a plastic bowl. [Should have lightly salted them when they came out of the water or now. But if boiling water had been right would not have needed more salt.]
  11. Boiled crawfish in four batches of different sizes as getting the live rascals out of the cooler was not easy. Dropped some on the driveway and got pinched a few times.
  12. Brought each batch to a boil for ~2-3 minutes then added to seasoned soak pot. Tasted a few and were too mild. Added more concentrate to boil pot and soak pot as well as the dry seasoning mix. Later batches still seemed not flavorful or spicy enough.
  13. Jeff reminded me that in the restaurants they shake the seasoning on in the serving tray. That way it gets on your fingers and the meat as you eat it. That kicked them up a lot.
  14. By the last boil the smaller blue cooler — that still had the large plastic pot holding the corn and potatoes — was within 6″ of being full of red boiled crawfish piled on as they came out of the soak pot.
  15. Served them outside on the patio by scooping the crawfish/corn/potatoes/garlic onto three baking sheets with Mary’s jambalaya (she referred to the Tree Beards recipe) on rice and deviled eggs.
  16. Results:Crawfish table 2016 Easter 2 96dpi

    1. The ez-peel shrimp were crunchy so were cooked right – but not very spicy. The float indicator of being done worked again. But I think the opened shell for the ex-peel had let too much water in and the seasoning did not stay. They also needed more salt than was in the mix.
    2. The potatoes had a nice flavor and some said theirs was very spicy. Most did not get cooked all the way through.
    3. The corn was almost mushy. Likely due to using the frozen kind of the very tender sweet corn. If it had been the typical field corn–as is bought in the husk– likely would not have been mushy.
    4. The garlic pod was still intact after about 30 minutes in the initial boiling process. The cloves were firm but slightly sweet. Very nice but not much seasoning taste although there were hints of it.
    5. The crawfish were all done fine despite the random boil times. None boiled more than 5 minutes and all were taken out when a lot had floated. For the final smaller batch poured in cool filtered tap water to stop the cook then they soaked in the boil pot for ~20 minutes.
    6. I believe we should have added some salt to the boil. The Extra Spicy Zat’s seasoning was not very salty. Maybe the amount put in the water was not enough although the seasoned water was very red and before the boil there was a rich froth. After it was over there was about 3/4″ of the seasoning remaining in its plastic jug. I do not think if that had been spread into the boils that small amount would have made a difference in the need to a little salt.
  17. Next Time:

    1. Taste the boil water and soak water to be sure of the level of salt.
    2. Use fresh corn
    3. Have a hook to catch the bottom of the steaming strainer to dump it and a long sleeve shirt or towel wrapped around the arm to block the steam.
    4. Simmer the seasoning pot for a while so the oils in the seasoning would have better leached into the water. That would have made it spicier. Could also have used a second seasoning pot for a longer soak time without delaying the next batch. A work table would have been great as the driveway did not afford a good work surface.
    5. Add 2 lbs. cajun sausage using half regular blend cut into 1″ long pieces and the other half Jalapeno cut into 1/2″ long pieces. Different lengths will warn the wimps of the hot ones while letting some of the heat into the boil.
    6. Add homemade Zat’s seasoning in a cache.
    7. Add lemons.
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