A Block Party
Howdy, I'm RedMonkeyButt, and hopefully by the end of this article you will not only know what a crawfish is, but how to cook and enjoy them as well. I will not go through the ins and outs of catching the little buggers because not all of you have a good creek running through your backyard. Instead, you will have to hunt through the wilds of the grocery store to find yourself some finger-licking goodness. Not a fan of crawfish, you can substitute shrimp for this and skip a few steps.
First, you need to know how many people are coming to the party. Crawfish are considered party food, do not try to dispute this because you will not win that argument. You will need 3-5 pounds of fresh live crawfish for every person coming to the party. This is because, relative to the size of the live crawfish, the tail meat is actually pretty small. One would think it's not worth the work that goes into it. One would be wrong. For a typical block party here we figure that a minimum of 20 pounds of crawfish is needed. You can get less and include some fried fish and boiled shrimp in the mix.
Get thyself to the grocery store, dear reader, and pick up the following:
> Live crawfish. Make sure they are live and in a mesh bag.
> Some baby red potatoes. Size doesn't matter, just make sure the potatoes are good.
> Fresh ears of corn. Do not be a coward in this, get the corn that's still in silk and husks.
> A bunch of lemons. A BUNCH.
> A couple onions. Or more than a couple. Maybe a few.
> Your favorite sausage. It has to be something that can be boiled.
> 2-3 bags of crawfish boil. Louisiana makes a good crawfish and shrimp boil in either powdered form or as bagged spices. Either of these will work, but you'll need several packages. Liquid crab boil works as well if that's all you can get hold of.
When you get home, put the crawfish in a very large ice chest. Don't have one? Go back to the store and get one, or borrow your neighbors. If he's wanting to eat your crawfish, he can share his ice chest for the purging. Now is the time to clear out any dead crawfish from your handy mesh bags. Fill the ice chest with the crawfish and then try your best to drown them. Add a little bit of salt to the water and let the crawfish purge. I'm not talking ocean salty here, but there needs to be some salt in the water. After a few hours, check on the mudbugs and change the water if it's really nasty. Chunk any dead ones at this time, as well. Do this every few hours until the water is clear. I usually purge crawfish for 24 hours before a big party.
After you have purged them for a day, it's time to get ready for the boil. Get your biggest, baddest boiling pot out of storage and put it on an outdoor burner. Turkey fryers are large enough for this. Fill it about half full with water. You don't have to get fancy with this, use the hose and make it easy on yourself. Dump one bag of the boil seasoning into the water and stir it around for a bit with a stick or big wooden spoon or kayak paddle. Set this so that it starts to boil and get to work on the veggies.
By now, you should have had some kids shucking the corn. If not, do this first and get as much of the silk off as you can. Do not use one of those sissy silk brushes, just use your hands - they're cheaper. If you got some big taters, cut them in half. Otherwise, leave them whole. Cut the ears of corn and the lemons in half. Take the onions and cut the ends off and then cut them in half. Discard the papery skins and the first couple layers and then cut these in half again. Cut the sausage into manageable pieces, too. Add all of this vegetation to the pot of boiling spicy water. If you have a basket that goes into the pot, use it. Those things make life easier. When the potatoes are fork tender and the corn is cooked, pull the mess out and put it in an aluminum roasting pan for serving. Leave the lemons and onions in the pot.
Now, this is the fun part. Take a large scoop, or the shovel from the kids beach toy pile, or anything big enough to get a large number of crawfish from the ice chest to the pot and start moving those puppies to the water. You may want to add another half bag of the seasoning before doing this. Get the crawfish in the pot and get the lid on it quick, fast, and in a hurry. Weight the lid, too, because they will try to escape. You don't want them to escape because they will attack your toes and scare small children. Leave them in there for 3 minutes and then remove them to wherever is convenient. Repeat this until all of the crawfish are completely dead. Do NOT try to cook any crawfish that was already dead before you tried to kill them.
To eat a crawfish, you hold the tail where it meets the main body, pinch, and then twist the tail away from the body. The real hardcore folks like to suck the juices from the head. Go ahead if that's what you like. Otherwise, discard the head and get back to the tail. Pull the first couple sections of shell off the broken end and then put the meat between your lips. While pinching the end of the tail, pull that meat out of there. Repeat for as long as needed to get a full stomach.
If you cannot get crawfish, or just don't prefer them, you can substitute unpeeled shrimp instead. It takes significantly less shrimp to feed each person - anywhere from ½ to 1 pound per person. Keep everything else the same.
You will also need one whole roll of paper towels for every two people. I recommend the cheaper brown paper towels. Feel free to message me on the forum, or send me feedback with the replying email field filled out if you would like more recipes using crawfish tail meat. Remember, it is generally better to get more crawfish than you need than to not get enough. Peel the remaining crawfish and bag the tail meat for later use. Discard the shells and the boiling water as you would any other trash - in a neighboring yard and trash can. *wink*