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Carolina Crawfish Boil

Follow our easy, step-by-step, recipe to learn how to make this Carolina Crawfish Boil at home.

Crawfish Boils are a great way to share a meal with family and friends. Yes, you have to work a bit for your supper, but it can certainly be a whole lot of fun as you do.

This simple recipe for a Crawfish Boil is meant to feed only one or two people. But, you could easily double the recipe if you need to serve a few more. It’s mostly based around the fact that it’s done in the kitchen as opposed to outdoors.

What we consider a full on Cajun Crawfish Boil usually includes some really large pots for cooking outdoors, a couple of “bags” or “sacks” of crawfish, lots of potatoes, corn, onions, maybe even some sort of sausage. Most of all, it’s anticipated that you’re going to be feeding a large group of family and friends, and it’s as much about the experience of it all as it is the process of cooking it all.

Under such circumstances, the crawfish, once cooked, are spread out on large tables that have been covered with lots of old newspapers. You just dump the veggies, sausage and the crawfish out in the middle of the table and spread them out. Family and friends gather around and just have a great time enjoying the meal. That’s lots of fun, when it happens.

But, if you’re only cooking up enough for yourself, or maybe you and your spouse, then you’re likely to be cooking in the kitchen. This then, is the recipe you’re probably looking for.

Each weekend, a company from down at the North Carolina coast, Wilmington to be exact, brings up lots of fresh seafood that they sell at a local roadside stand just a couple of miles from where I live. I’ve bought from them often, and always get fresh fish, oysters, and other goodies from them whenever I shop their stand.

They have just started carrying Crawfish. About 85-90 percent of all live crawfish come from Louisiana. That’s where mine came from, but we do have a few crawfish farms across our state of North Carolina.

Thankfully, most of the crawfish you purchase from a fish monger are pretty clean when you buy them, but I like to rinse them a couple of times while I’m preparing everything else that goes into the pot.

It’s said that you need about 3-5 pounds of live crawfish per person. I’ll leave that up to you. I had just about one and a half pounds that I cooked here and found it plenty once you add in some potatoes and corn. I might have ate more had I been in a large crowd of folks. Just saying.

If you think you’ll have a problem with some buttery juice dripping down your chin, your wrists and arms while you’re eating them, you might want to shy away to begin with. But, hey, that’s just part of the fun. Grab you a bib if you need too, but do boil up a batch while they are in season.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

Carolina Crawfish Boil Recipe, you’ll need these ingredients, and some crawfish. You might also want to add an onion. I might have left that out of the photo. Sorry.

As I mentioned, a crawfish boil can be for just one, or for as large a crowd as you need to feed. These are just the basics for how it’s done on a smaller scale in the kitchen. You might want to try this way first, to get the feel for how to cook more for your family and friends.

You’re going to need some crawfish of course. I’m using just about one and a half pounds for this recipe. Most guides say you need about 3 pounds of crawfish per person. Maybe even more, depending on the appetite.

You certainly want to make sure they are clean. They don’t call them “mudbugs” for nothing. Mine were pretty clean to begin with as the fish monger I purchased them from had done most of the cleaning before I purchased them.

I placed all that I had in a colander and rinsed them well under cold running water. Hot water would kill them, so be sure to use cold water. Rinse them really good.

After I rinsed them well in the colander, I put about an inch of cold water in the sink and just dumped the crawfish in the sink. They had been under refrigeration for awhile, so washing them and placing them in water caused them to warm up and become more active. Just let them stay in this small amount of water while we get that pot of water, I mean hot tub, going. Smile.

I’m using a 7-8 quart size stew pot for this recipe. Any large, deep stock pot will do, just make sure you have a lid that will fit it, or plan to cover the top with aluminum foil if need be.

Fill the pot about 3/4ths full of water and place over High heat on your stove top. Bring the water to a boil while you continue to clean the crawfish.

Once the water reaches a boil, REDUCE the heat to Medium-High and add the Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil Bag. This one is 3 ounces in size.  The directions on the box says you’ll need one bag of the Crab Boil for every 4 pounds of crawfish.

Add the stick of butter.

Add the salt.

Add the onion. Peel the onion, and either slice it half into or just drop the whole onion in the pot.

Slice or cut the lemon as desired and add it to the pot of boiling water.

Add the potatoes. I dropped the potatoes in the pot and they went straight to the bottom. I had to get these tongs and fish one back out so I could snap it’s photo. Smile.

Let this return to a rolling boil and let it all cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Just pull one back out and poke it with a fork. If it’s soft enough for the fork to pierce it, or getting close, go ahead and add the corn.

Fresh corn would be awesome for this recipe, but I had to use frozen corn. I just dropped it in once the potatoes were pretty soft. Now, let’s get back to the crawfish.

When we last saw these, we had them in about an inch of water. I drained that water and sprayed them again.

Then, I stopped up the drain on the sink and added enough cold water to completely submerge the crawfish under water by about an inch. They will continue to purge themselves this way, but we don’t want to leave them under water for very long. Don’t want to drown them.

No, I didn’t add salt which some folks say causes them to purge themselves. From what I’ve read, the salt doesn’t do anything to help them clean out their insides. I’m going to remove that dirt line anyway before I eat them. Smile.

They should only stay submerged for 10-15 minutes.  That should be about enough time to cook the corn.

I drained the water off the crawfish and sprayed them again for one final rinse. Then, I used my tongs to pick them up and place them back in the colander, making sure my fingers were staying out of their reach. Smile.

Say Thank You to the crawfish, and dump them in the pot of boiling water. Use a spoon to press them down in the water as best as possible.

INCREASE the heat back to High and let the water come back up to a fast rolling boil.

Once the water comes back up to a boil, cover the pot. Start your timer.

Let the crawfish cook on High for TWO MINUTES.

At the end of the two minutes, turn the heat OFF, and just let the pot sit on the stove top for 15-20 minutes.

Your Carolina Crawfish Boil is now ready to be served. I scooped mine out and placed them in a bowl.

Larger groups, when cooking outdoors, generally just cover the top of their tables with old newspapers. The crawfish, onions, potatoes and corn are then scooped out and spread all across the table. Folks usually just stand around the table and eat whatever they want, enjoying the fun and conversation with family and friends.

To eat a crawfish, you twist the head off. It’s easy to see where the body joins the head. It took me a few times to figure this out, but instead of just ripping the head off, I twisted the head slightly one way, then back around the other way. This allowed the meat from inside the head to be pulled away with the body.

Do the same with the tail. Turn it slightly one way, then back the other way. Grip the tail tightly between your fingers and slowly pull the tail away from the body. Normally, the dirt vein will come out easily this way.

From there, you twist the body shell and pull the meat out from the larger end. You should end up with a portion of meat about the size of a small to medium size shrimp, depending on the size of the crawfish of course.

While many folks like to suck the gold mustard from the head, I pass on this part. Most everything came out when I removed the head from the body. Don’t hold that against me. Smile.


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