Crawfish — also called crawdads, crayfish, and mudbugs in the south — are like freshwater mini-lobsters. They are the Official State Crustacean of Louisiana and the epitome of Cajun cuisine. Throw on some zydeco, bust out the beer and bring the party outdoors. An authentic southern crawfish boil is going to impress.
By Shane Reynolds
When I was a child, I lived in Baton Rouge before my family moved to east Texas on Lake Sam Rayburn. It was during my childhood that I learned to love crawfish and the enjoyment of cooking and eating them with family and friends.
Unlike lobster, crawfish boils don’t come with small fancy forks and candlelight. The dress code is casual. It’s all about the food. And it’s going to be messy! Crawfish are boiled in a large pot, outdoors. The boil usually includes corn, potatoes, sausage (I’m not a big sausage fan in my boil… kind of like how I don’t like beans in my chili) and lots of spice. Did I mention lots of spice? The down-home serving style is poured onto a communal table covered with newspaper or a disposable tablecloth for all the guests to plunder. In the club business, I have to be a little more civilized and offer aluminum pans or cardboard boxes for our members and their guests to load up.
Traditionally, this feast is a feature of springtime in the bayou. But if you have an outdoor space, a large pot and a few friends with great appetites, a crawfish boil is fantastic fun wherever you are.
How to Host a Crawfish Boil
Crawfish Boil-Themed Décor
You can make any crawfish boil extra fun for kids and adults by adding a Louisiana theme to the party. Toss around some décor to make your backyard look extra bayou-tiful. Have the kids dress up like alligators, Native Americans or 19th century smugglers like Jean Lafitte.
String lights in a jar make a great substitute for fire flies. Go full-on French Quarter with some jazz tunes, fancy hats and frozen slushies. Or, add some southern flare by substituting a peach punch.
Cleaning Your Crawfish
If your lovable little mudbugs are not freshly delivered, keep them comfortably chilling in a cooler, waiting for the big day. Your crawdaddies should be as fresh as possible — and alive!
Open up the sacks and clean off any grass, feed, mud and other filth stuck to your crawfish. You still shouldn’t soak your crawfish in water for too long. There is no need to salt or purge them, which only increases the risk that they’ll die before they make it into your pot. Do NOT cook dead crawfish.
• Keep your crawfish out of direct sunlight.
• Empty the sacks into a clean cooler, or use what I like to use — a horse water trough.
• Rinse your crawfish in the cooler with lukewarm water, leaving the drain open. The crawdaddies become much more energetic as the chill wears off!
• Agitate the cooler to clean the crawfish and help the dirty water drain.
• Rinse and drain the bugs again.
• Remove any crawfish that float — they are dead.
• Once the water runs clear, your delicious little mudbugs are ready for the big boil.
Crawfish Boil Safety Tips
• Floating crawfish are dead and should not be cooked.
• Keep an extinguisher handy.
• Do NOT position crawfish cooker near flammable scrub, plants or materials.
• Use caution in handling hot water, pots and food.
• Keep children away from cooking area. (It’s tempting to peek.)
• Designate one or two people to man the boil to avoid an overcrowded, dangerous space.
There is a lot of information I will not publish here, but I will have it on The Club website at www.clubsofcordilleraranch.com. Other information includes:
• How big your crawfish pot should be.
• How to spice your crawfish.
• How to choose a location for your crawfish boil.
• What you need to set up for your crawfish boil.
• How to prep for no mess.
• Cleaning stations.
• Boil away! How to cook your crawfish.
• How to know when your crawfish are done.
Bon Appetit and Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!
Shane Reynolds is the Director of Recreation at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210.616.6051.
Two Club Events for crawfish lovers!
Don’t miss out — contact Shane to sign up!
March 30, 2019: Crawfish Boil at the Outfitter Center
April 13, 2019: Clays & Crawfish at the Gun Club and Equestrian Center