Crawfish season is in full swing, and there’s no better way to prepare those bright red “mudbugs” than in a hot boil of spices. The traditional meal version of the boil incudes sausage, potatoes and corn cobettes in the mix and is a joyful mess to eat. But for a more elegant preparation, you can prepare the boil without the corn/potatoes/sausage add-ins, picking the seasoned meat from the shells to make this creamy linguini dish that shares my name: Crawfish Monica. Because crawfish are little (only 2-½ to 4-inches long) it takes between six and seven pounds of whole crawfish to yield one pound of crawfish tail meat. Note: Save all of the shells (heads, claws & all) and simmer them in a pot to make a nice stock you can use for a crawfish bisque or seafood stew.
4 quarts boiling water
4 to 6 Tbsp Cajun Crawfish Boil Spice Mix (below)
6 pounds fresh crawfish
2 whole medium-sized onions
6 cloves garlic
2 lemons, sliced
6 cloves garlic chopped
handful of fresh bay leaves (6 to 8)
CAJUN CRAWFISH BOIL SPICE BLEND
2 to 3 Tbsp Cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp Spanish paprika
1 Tbsp dried mustard
2 Tbsp each, garlic powder & onion powder
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3 Tbsp coriander seeds
3 tsp salt
1 box linguine, prepared according to box instructions
1 pound crawfish tail meat, prepared in the boil and picked from the shells
1 medium onion, diced small
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced salt & freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
MAKE SPICE BLEND: Mix all ingredients.
PREPARE CRAWFISH BOIL: Make your crawfish-boil spice blend. Set 4 quarts of water to boiling. Add 4 to 6 Tbsp of the spice blend, plus a handful of fresh bay leaves, 2 whole onions, 6 cloves of garlic, and 2 sliced lemons to the boiling water. Add as many of the crawfish as will fit into the boiling water. Boil for five minutes, until crawfish are bright red. Remove crawfish from pot. Repeat with remaining crawfish, removing after cooked and bright red.
MAKE CRAWFISH MONICA: Pick the tail meat from 6 pounds of crawfish (enough to yield 1 pound) that was prepared in a crawfish boil. Save shells to make stock. Prepare linguine according to package instructions. Save pasta water. In a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan, melt butter and add onions and garlic, sweat and saute at low temperature until onions and garlic are translucent. Add wine and turn up heat a bit; cook until liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the onions and garlic. Add cream and half of the parmesan cheese. Reduce. Remove pan from heat; fold in crawfish gently. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and lemon. Combine finished sauce with prepared linguine. If too thick, add a bit of the hot, reserved pasta water. Plate on to individual serving dishes. Garnish with chives, parsley and extra cheese.