If you missed Mardi Gras 2002, you passed up one great party. The day after Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. And one thing you can count on during Lent is plenty of Crawfish Boils.
Most people can eat 3-5 pounds of crawfish. I invited quite a few people over so I picked up about 80 pounds of crawfish. They come in sacks at 30-40 pounds each, so for us that was two sacks. Boiling crawfish is a festive event and eating it is thirsty work, so we made sure to have lots of beer on hand.
Unlike a crab boil or a shrimp boil, we don't just boil the crawfish by themselves. We throw some corn, potatoes, and cajun smoked sausage into the pot for eating, and lemon and onions for added seasoning. For this boil, my sister-in-law suggested we put in some whole fresh mushrooms. The mushrooms soak up plenty of the boil seasonings and are delicious.
One thing to remember is they call crawfish mud-bugs. Our first step was to clean the litte buggers up. There are two different views on using salt to purge crawfish: some say don't, others say do. While salt guarantees a good, clean batch, some of the crawfish do die in the process. You do not, I repeat, DO NOT, want to add dead crawfish to the pot. You'll find out very quickly that these 'Dead Soldiers' don't peel easily and taste worse.
Having said all of that, we did add half a box of salt to an ice chest with enough water to cover the crawfish and stirred it up a bit. The water in the ice-chest got real dirty real quick. We picked out grass, trash and dead crawfish while we waited for them to quit spitting out mud. After a few minutes we drained the water and repeated this without salt until the water was pretty clear. We had two ice chests on hand so that we could do the initial salt purge in one chest and keep the cleaned crawfish in another chest, ready to boil.
While we were rinsing the crawfish in the ice-chest, we got the pot going. We used a 80-quart pot, filled about half way with water. This was set up on a large outdoor burner. You will need a basket for the pot to get the crawfish in and out of the pot. We started up the burner and I added about 32 oz. of crawfish boil seasonings. This stuff is mainly salt and cayenne pepper with other herbs added in for flavor. I halved a half dozen lemons, squeezed the juice into the pot and then dropped the lemons in.
Let this mixture get up to a boil. This gives you time to cut the sausage up into four-six inch pieces and give the potatoes a good cleaning. Once the pot was boiling I placed all the sausage, potatoes, and corn into the basket and boiled them for about 10-15 minutes. This gave me something to put on the table to fend off the natives while I worked on the first batch of crawfish.
Now get the water to a rolling boil and add the crawfish. Stir them up a bit, then cover the pot and return to boil for about 5-10 minutes. Stir them again, turn off the fire and allow them to soak for about 10-15 minutes.
Drain the crawfish then pour them out on your table covered with newspaper. If you want them more spicy you can add seasonings at the table. While all of this was going on, I had my next batch running through the ice-chests, getting ready to go in the pot. If you have never eaten crawfish the CrawfishGuy has an excellent set of instructions for peeling the crawfish.
This first batch was a little mild. It gave the kids a chance to get in and get their grub on. For the next batch I added more cayenne and salt, and repeated the boil process. With my pot I ran four batches through in about 4 hours --- taking some time out to eat.
The day was a success. I hope this helps you out with your crawfish boil.