Friday, December 23, 2011

Crawfish Fettuccine

A couple of nights ago, we were out to dinner and I ordered a crawfish dish from the menu - only to be told that they were out of all the crawfish items.  I was robbed!  So since then, crawfish has been on my mind.  Something like an itch that you want to scratch (as the old saying goes).

This is a recipe that was passed along to me from one of my older children's Kindergarten teacher down in South Louisiana many years ago, with some minor alterations.  The quantities will definitely serve a crowd if you are looking for something to bring to one of your school/work/church/family functions! ...otherwise, you can just have a spare casserole tucked away in your freezer for another meal with zero prep work.  How is THAT for efficient?!

As far as price, yes crawfish can get a little pricey.  BUT, when you consider that this recipe will serve a crowd - probably at least 12-15 people... it actually comes out as a bargain in the end.  And we all like bargains, right?  Especially when you consider the cost of just ONE of those menu items in the restaurant!  But if you prefer, you could always substitute some left over cooked chicken in the place of the crawfish. 
 
Click for Printable Recipe


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 lbs crawfish tails, cleaned and rinsed. No fat left on them
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 lb Velveeta jalapeno cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lb fettuccine noodles
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 -2 cups chicken broth
  • salt, pepper and creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's) to taste

Step-by-Step:
I triple rinse the crawfish tails to get rid any residual fat and take away any of the "fishy" odor. Then just let them drain off to the side in a colander.  If you prefer to not wash them, that is certainly your choice.  Washing your crawfish seems to be a hotbed of contention among my readers.  Many feel you should not rinse them.  Let me again reiterate that this is a personal choice.  If you want all the flavor of the fat, don't rinse.  If you are like me and bristle at the smell when you first open that package, then be guest to rinse them. 

If you live in an area where you can not find local, Louisiana crawfish.  You can purchase them online at CajunGrocer.com and they will ship them to you.
I'm not sure if you can see the label clearly, but the frozen crawfish tails are already fully cooked, peeled, and deveined.
First washing - yuck!  The murkiness comes from all of the fat left on the tails that we want to wash off.
Second washing - much cleaner!
Third washing - much whiter and the water stayed clear.

Chop the vegetables, and saute in melted butter.  When wilted and softened, add the flour.



Cook over low, stirring frequently until vegetables are nice and soft. You don't really wanted to cook it so long that your flour starts browning.  We're just making a very light roux.

Add half and half, Velveeta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, creole seasoning, and mushrooms. You could probably use evaporated milk here if you have some on hand in the pantry.
half and half
Mexican Velveeta with jalapenos.
Chopped garlic
Seasonings

Cook for 20 min or so over low, stirring frequently.  It will become really silky after a bit.  See all the delicious spices?  If your sauce becomes too thick, thin it out a bit with the chicken broth.  You could also use some milk, white wine, etc.  I like to make it somewhat "soupier" at the end.  Remember that you will be baking it, which will further thicken it; and also the noodles will suck up some of the sauce.  So I would recommend making it a little looser than you feel you will need it in the end.

**This is when you want to start boiling the water for the noodles.  Ideally, you want these 20 minutes to correspond with the noodles being cooked and drained so neither of them has to sit and wait on the other one.
Finish off the sauce with a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (and maybe a couple of shakes of hot sauce would be excellent, too!).  This adds another level of depth to the sauce.  You don't want it to be too one-dimensional.  Oh, and add in the parsley.

Cook and drain the fettuccine noodles according to package directions (about 11 minutes), then add them immediately to the sauce mixture.
Add the crawfish tails to the sauce, then stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. (Sorry, forgot to take a photo for the Parmesan...but don't forget to add it!) - and for God's sake, please do not use that stuff that they sell in the green can that calls itself Parmesan cheese.  A recipe is only as good as its ingredients! 
 

Bake uncovered in a greased low Pyrex casserole dish for about 15 - 20 min in a 350 F oven.
Now you may be wondering where we were to add the parsley?  The original recipe never said.  I've tried adding it just before going into the oven (along with the Parmesan), and I've also just used it as a garnish.  So I guess we'll have to leave that up to your preference.  Note - this recipe will make two full 9" x 13" casserole dishes full.

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe!  You can check out many more on my Recipe Index.


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Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Louisiana Crab Claws Bordelaise
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Easy Beefy Enchiladas

Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

Man Chili

Tomato Basil Chicken

Written Directions

I triple rinse the crawfish tails to get rid any residual fat and take away any of the "fishy" odor. Then just let them drain off to the side in a colander.

Chop the vegetables, and saute in melted butter.  When wilted and softened, add the flour.  Cook over low, stirring frequently until vegetables are nice and soft. You don't really wanted to cook it so long that your flour starts browning.  We're just making a very light roux. Add half and half, Velveeta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, creole seasoning, and mushrooms. You could probably use evaporated milk here if you have some on hand in the pantry.

Cook for 20 min or so over low, stirring frequently.  It will become really silky after a bit.  See all the delicious spices?  If your sauce becomes too thick, thin it out a bit with the chicken broth.  I like somewhat of a "soupier" sauce at the end.  Remember that you will be baking it, which will further thicken it; and also the noodles will suck up some of the sauce.  So I would recommend making it a little looser than you feel you will need it in the end.

**This is when you want to start boiling the water for the noodles.  Ideally, you want these 20 minutes to correspond with the noodles being cooked and drained so neither of them has to sit and wait on the other one.
Finish off the sauce with a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (and maybe a couple of shakes of hot sauce would be excellent, too!).  This adds another level of depth to the sauce.  You don't want it to be too one-dimensional.

Cook and drain the fettuccine noodles according to package directions (about 11 minutes), then add them immediately to the sauce mixture.  Add the crawfish tails to the sauce, then stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese - and for God's sake, please do not use that stuff that they sell in the green can that calls itself Parmesan cheese.  A recipe is only as good as its ingredients!

Bake uncovered in a greased low Pyrex casserole dish for about 15 - 20 min in a 350 F oven .

Now you may be wondering where we were to add the parsley?  The original recipe never said  I added it directly to my sauce because I think it's so pretty.  I've also just used it as a garnish. 


Food Nerd Notes:
If you do not have Creole Seasoning, you can make you own.  Here is a recipe for Creole Seasoning from Emeril Lagasse. Source: Prime Time Emeril by Emeril Lagasse (Wm Morrow):
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
Combine paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme thoroughly in a bowl.  Store in an airtight container away from light. Use within three months. Yield: about 2/3 cup.  This is probably cheaper than the prepared Creole seasoning if you already have the spices.

What is the difference between Cajun and Creole seasoning?
Well two of the biggest distinctions are origin, and to some extent a socioeconomic and lifestyle difference in the two groups of people.  The Creole foods were largely "city" cooking that were based certainly in the traditions of the French, but with far reaching influences from Spain, Africa, Germany, Italy, the West Indies, and the Indians of the region - all of whom came to settle in the New Orleans area and imparted their culinary marks. Cajun cooking, on the other hand, was typically peasant food from the swampy Acadiana area of Louisiana (people who came to be known as the Cajuns).  These people settled and learned to live off of the Louisiana swamps; and they developed a certain style of cooking that is more pungent and more highly spiced than the more refined food of the Creole people.  
 
Both styles of food were heavily dependent upon improvisation, but in different amounts. Cajun food is well-seasoned, with a predictable blend of fresh onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, green onions, and parsley. These seasonings along with a dark brown Cajun roux are the basis of flavor. Creole dishes were more tomato-based.  Although to complicate matters, this distinction switches for some dishes. For example, a Cajun jambalaya is roux based and a Creole jambalaya is tomato based. On the other hand, a Cajun étoufée is tomato based, while a Creole étouffée is roux based.  Go figure.

Other distinctions are regional.  The gumbo recipes of Louisiana differ not only between Creole and Cajun cuisine, but from which region of Louisiana you visit (somewhat like differences in dialect). A gumbo prepared along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast (Grand Isle area) is made with a light or medium roux and is thin almost like a soup. A Creole (New Orleans area) gumbo is made with medium to dark roux and often has tomatoes and okra in it. A Cajun (Lafayette area) gumbo is made with a dark roux (my personal favorite!) and sometimes has okra in it. All gumbos are served over rice and contain either a combination of seafood or chicken and sausage.

In case you are in the gumbo mood now, I have a recipe for Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo in the October 2011 postings that have received many compliments!  It is made in the Cajun style of a dark roux.

Both Creole and Cajun cuisines and a fusion of the two forms of cuisines can be found in the southern part of Louisiana.  So.... to all you Northern people (and folks from other places in the world), when you see statistics about the South having more than its share of overweight people, you'll have a better understanding of why this is.  This region has some of the best food on the planet - hands down! 

7 comments:

  1. Please, please, PLEASE don't "wash" all the fat off your crawfish tails. That's where all the flavor is!

    FYI -- the so-called "fat" isn't really fat. It's the hepatopancreas of the animal and is responsible for much of the unique taste of crawfish. Just once, try your dish without removing the "fat." You'll never want to go back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is certainly a matter of personal preference. If you prefer it, keep it on there. That's the beauty of cooking at home. Total control. :-)

      Delete
  2. If I am only cooking fo 4 people how much of everything will I need?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would definitely recommend cutting the recipe in half for only 4 people.

      Delete
  3. Oh, okay. Thank u so much!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm like obsessed with your blog. Lol You have taught me so much about cooking, I'll definintely be referring this blog to friends and family!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate that... I could use new viewers. :-)

      Delete

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