The warm climate across the South means we are lucky enough to be able to cook outdoors quite often, and we take advantage of that in many ways. Whether it’s a potluck dinner, a crawfish or shrimp boil or a catfish fry, getting together with friends and family over a case of beer and a little (or a lot of) sunshine is the best way to carry on the tradition.
Only make this dish if you are able to get live crawfish (better known as crayfish in the UK). It’s very important that they are alive when you add them to the boil, otherwise, you’ll risk ruining your batch. Be sure to purchase them as close to the cooking day as possible. Try to handle each carefully before adding to the pot, to check that they are all still alert. Any dead crawfish should be discarded.
Old Bay seasoning or Zatarain’s seafood boil seasoning (available from online stockists)
12 lemons, halved
2-1/4 pounds small, red-skinned waxy potatoes
2-1/4 pounds Andouille sausage
12 corn cobs, shucked and cut in half
11 pounds live crawfish, rinsed clean
You will need a large stockpot, about 20 litres (5 gallons) in capacity, fitted with a strainer. Fill it about two-thirds full with water, add the seasoning according to the instructions on the container and bring to a rapid boil. Add the lemons, whole potatoes and andouille and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the corn cobs and live crayfish and cook for 3–4 minutes, until the crayfish are bright red.
Lift the strainer out of the pot and allow to drain. Dump all of the cooked ingredients on to a picnic table lined with fresh newspaper (or a large serving dish). Have plenty of ice-cold beer available, plus the lemon wedges and hot sauce for seasoning.
To eat the crawfish, grasp the head in one hand and the tail in the other. Twist gently but firmly to separate the carcass. Dig the meat from the tail and then suck the head to enjoy the roe, coral, liver and natural juices left within.