How To Boil Crawfish
I love Springtime in Mississippi! BBQ season kicks off, plants and trees come back to life, crappie start biting, and Crawfish prices drop! These delicious little mud bugs are a delicacy in the South, and if you don’t live down here you can easily have them shipped overnight right to your front door.
I know it’s not bbq but I think everyone should know how to throw a crawfish boil, so I decided to share with you how I boil crawfish. First you’ll need a big pot and strainer basket. I use an 80qt aluminum pot made by Bayou Classic right here in Mississippi. They also sell the jet burners that I use to bring the big ole pot to a boil.
Next you’ll need to source some crawfish. They’re available all over the place now days. Ask with your local seafood guy, or check out one of the Louisiana companies shipping them straight from the bayou. One company that I recommend is lacrawfish.com; they ship live crawfish overnight and have all sorts of products native to the swamp (you can even get gator – I have a friend coming in a few weeks to show us how to cook it!)
Once you have the necessary equipment and the crawfish, it’s easy – but a lot more fun when you have friends to help. I invited my Buddy Mark Williams from Swine Life BBQ over and this is the recipe we’ve perfected.
You’ll need some crawfish/crab boil (dry and liquid), salt, vinegar, butter, garlic, lemon, and a few special seasonings to wake up the flavor.
For our setup we use 2 pots and 2 burners. The first pot is the boiling pot. This pot cranks up the temperature and cooks the crawfish.The second pot is where we soak the crawfish at a lower temperature so all the flavor in the pot gets drawn into the crawfish.
Both pots are filled half way with water about 40 quarts each. Then the burners are lit and we add the seasonings:
- 4.5 lbs dry crawfish boil
- 32oz liquid crawfish boil
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 bottle Killer Hogs AP Seasoning
- 1 bottle Swine Life Mississippi Grit Seasoning
- a handful of peeled garlic cloves
- one lemon
Each pot is brought to boil and allowed to cool twice, so all of the flavors are mixed well and concentrated. At this point leave the burner going on the cook pot and turn off the heat on the soak pot. We want the soak pot to cool off all the way down to 160 degrees.
Now you have to clean the crawfish; basically wash all the mud and dirt from the swamp off of them. I know that some people swear by soaking them in salt water so they purge themselves but this does nothing but kill the crawfish. All you need is water and a tub or cooler big enough to hold the sac. I use a tub called “The Crawfish Washer”; it’s a big plastic tub with a drain hole and an attachment for a water hose that has a special sprayer built into the side of the tub. The crawfish go in the tub, water fills the tub just until it starts to overflow a bit, then the drain plug is pulled. The sprayer creates a whirlpool effect and the crawfish start to spin around in the current. This causes any debris to float to the top where it spills out (don’t worry the crawfish won’t escape), and the dirt and mud go out the drain hole. It takes about 10-15 minutes before the water is clear and the crawfish are clean. You don’t have to use the crawfish washer a simple cooler will work – just fill and drain it multiple times until the water is clear.
Dump the clean crawfish in the strainer basket and lower them down into the boiling pot. As soon as the pot returns to a boil (about 5-10 minutes) set a timer for 3 minutes. The crawfish will turn a bright red and float to the top of the pot.
Carefully pull the strainer basket out and lower it into the 160 degree soak pot. Stir the crawfish around and set a timer for 20 minutes. You’ll notice that they start to sink in the soak pot. This is because the cooler temperature of this pot allows crawfish to fill up with juice making them heavy. You want this to happen!
If you’re only using one pot you can simply add a 10lb bag of ice to the boil pot. Be sure to kill the burner and stir the ice into the pot. It will chill the water down and create the same effect. It’s great for 1 sac of crawfish but if you’re cooking multiple sacs, you’ll have to add more flavor because the ice will dilute the seasonings in the water.
Once the crawfish have soaked for 20 minutes, dump the strainer into a dry cooler and close the lid. Some folks will season the crawfish with more dry boil at this point to get the spicy but I highly recommend NOT doing this. It only gets on the outside – making it miserable to eat them. The spicy get all over your hands and lips and it does nothing for the flavor of the crawfish. By soaking them in the cooler pot, these crawfish will have all the spice and flavor you want without the sting.
We use empty coolers to hold the crawfish. They will hold there heat for hours in a cooler, and seem to just get better in there over time…
Now you can’t have a crawfish without the sides and I always cook them after the crawfish. Potatoes, corn on the cob, smoked sausage, mushrooms, garlic, and onions are the normal fixins. Drop the potatoes, onions, garlic, and mushrooms into the strainer basket and lower it into the boiling pot. Cook everything for 10 minutes and then add the smoked sausage. Cook another 5 minutes and check the potatoes for tenderness. As soon as they’re fork tender turn off the gas and add the corn. Let it soak for 5 minutes and it’s ready to eat.
Dump the crawfish out on newspaper and add the sides and you’ll have a crawfish feast. All you need is some buddies and a cooler of cold beer!