Holiday weekend, Day 1

July 2, 2011

Four pounds' worth of crawfish tail meat. Labor-intensive dish, this is!

Goodbye Joe, me gotta go, me-o mi-o…

Disclaimer: I am not a Cajun. I have never lived in Louisiana. But I do love me some boiled crawfish. And because the current eG cookoff is savory pastries, I figured it was time to make crawfish pie.

I don't care if it's salty. It's good.

And crawfish pie I have made. And it’s pretty damn good, albeit it’s a bit salty. Note to self: when making crawfish stock, if you reduce it by half, thin it out before you use it. I’d forgotten how much salt you use to boil crawfish.

Yesterday afternoon, when I was on my way home from work, I noticed the crawfish trailer behind the flea market and across from one of my favorite bars was doing a land-office business. And it dawned on me that July 4 is traditionally the end of the crawfish season. So I thought, H’mm, ought to stop and get some crawfish.

Fast forward to today. I am at the farmers’ market, helping out with the tomato-judging (it was Tomato Festival day today), and the bluegrass band swung into “Jambalaya.” It was, I thought, a sign. So my next-to-last stop on the way home from the morning’s errand-running (market, grocery, liquor store, dog to and from groomer) was the crawfish trailer. I bought four pounds, because I didn’t think three would be enough and I knew I couldn’t tolerate peeling five.

Do you know how much meat you get out of four pounds of crawfish? Seven and a half ounces. Plus a pair of severely burning hands for the next couple of hours, because? These Cajuns are heavy on the cayenne in their crawfish boil.

Nevertheless, I peeled the little beasties, stashed the tail meat in a baggie in the fridge, and put the heads on to boil with an onion and some garlic. And I set about doing other stuff, namely boiling corn and cutting it off the cob to make black bean and corn salad, because it takes up less room in that form than on the cob and my fridge is nearing terminal fullness. And making watermelon-tomato gazpacho, which is about one step removed from ambrosia and is most assuredly in Sweet Baby Jesus territory. And after I sat down and had a beer or two, I strained the stock and went to making a pie.

It was going to be pies, as in little individual pastries, but I had gotten tired by that point. So it’s a big pie.

I confess. The Doughboy made my crust. I don’t know that I can make pie crust any better than he can, and his is a damn sight easier. The filling’s what the pie’s about, anyway.

My filling departs seriously from the Cajun, because I do not use the Trinity. Because I’m not crazy over celery, and I purely detest green bell pepper. So I sauteed some regular onion and some green onion and — in a flash of abject brilliance — a diced green tomato. Let it get nice and soft, and added a chopped-up ripe tomato. Let THAT cook until it came apart, and added a cup of stock in which I’d dissolved a couple tablespoons of flour, and the crawfish tail meat.

Wish I’d tasted the stock first. It has a good heat and bite to it, but it’s just too salty.

Anyway, I let that cook until it got thick, let it cool, poured it in my waiting pie shell, and slapped a top crust on it. Baked it for about 45 minutes, let it cool for another 15, and I was singing some Hank Williams.

Jambalaya, crawfish pie, file gumbo

For tonight, I’m gonna see my cher ami-o

Pick guitar, fill fruit jar, and be gay-o

Son of a gun, have big fun, on the bayou!

OK. I’ll stop singing now.

The watermelon tomato gazpacho was a creature of necessity, as I had some of both that I needed to get rid of. I took about three good-sized tomatos, and about half a basketball-sized seedless watermelon, whizzed them up in a food processor with half a Vidalia onion, about a half-cup of fresh basil leaves, some olive oil and some white balsamic vinegar.

It needed salt. I added salt. It needed salt plus something else. I added a healthy shake of Lawry’s seasoned salt, and it was perfect. I think I may use it to make Bloody Marys tomorrow.

The black bean and corn salad is slightly overseasoned, as it was my first time to use pimenton de la vera, and it came out of the container a bit faster than I’d anticipated. So it’ll be pretty smoky tasting. But it was good.

Tomorrow, it’s something interesting for breakfast, and then I believe I’ll spend some time sun-worshipping and drinking beer before I meet some friends for dinner. Sunday, it’s barbecue (an eight-pound Boston butt is reposing in the freezer in dry rub as we speak) and trimmings and a raspberry cream cheese pie. That ought to do right well for a weekend worth of saying Happy Birthday to America.

You and y’mama ‘n ’em wave a flag, toss a firecracker, and have a wonderful weekend.

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One Response to “Holiday weekend, Day 1”

  1. Pamela Coulter Says:

    Happy 4th of July Kay


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