From the beginning of February until the beginning of June, New Orleanians go into a festive frenzy. It begins with Mardi Gras, then the first warm weekend that falls, followed by St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day, Easter, French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest and then end of school and start of summer vacations. The frenzy is not this collection of special events but rather the accessory to all of it: The frenzy is Crawfish Season.
The big plastic letters outside of Big Fisherman on Magazine Street or KJeans in Mid City spell out the magic words “Hot Boiled Crawfish Today” and those signs remain until the beginning of summer. During that time the seafood departments of grocery stores smell differently, weekends are planned differently, we look at draft beer with more affinity, and our Mardi Gras cups get used with more frequency.
Crawfish boils are comprised of collecting newspapers, setting up plastic tables, ordering kegs of beer, purging the crawfish, chopping the veggies, getting the seasoning juuuust so and then, finally, boiling the crawfish. Friends and family tear into the steaming red trough of crustaceans, picking their favorite accoutrements along the way – potatoes, corn, mushrooms, sausage, and maybe artichokes and garlic. Everyone comments on the size of the crawfish, the seasoning and the weather and they stand shoulder to shoulder pinching the tails, sucking the heads and enjoying their part in this Southern Louisiana ritual.
There is a a backside to all of this for the host though. When the friends have gone, when the tables are folded up, and when the garbage has been relocated to black contractor bags for pick up early Monday morning, there is usually – almost always – a leftover pile of crawfish that did not get eaten. So much work goes into the boil that it is disproportionately painful to discard anything uneaten, but what are you really going to do with any leftovers? There is not enough to make Crawfish Étouffée or or Crawfish Bisque and too many to just quickly peel them and pop them into your mouth.
I pondered this while eating my very own pile of crawfish at a friend’s boil recently. I looked around and realized the key to a good leftover recipe is finding a use not just for the crawfish but for the veggies and extras also. That’s how you differentiate it from just a plain crawfish recipe. And that is where Sunday Morning Crawfish Crepes come in.
Embrace the Saturday-afternoon crawfish boil as your first step toward Sunday brunch. With advance planning you have a great use not just for your leftover crawfish but for any of the “extras” you can snag including corn, garlic, mushrooms, sausage and just about anything else. The key to this being a success is to split up the work making the crepes on Friday, grabbing your leftover crawfish on Saturday and then mixing everything together on Sunday.
The recipe is really simple. The basic idea is to peel your crawfish, cut up your veggies and add them to a spicy béchamel . Then ladle that into and over crepes with asparagus. The asparagus aren’t really that crawfish boil-y but they do look nice and the fresh green crunch adds to an otherwise rich filling.
So fold up the plastic tables and break out the wine glasses and silverware: Brunch is served!
- 8 crepes from the recipe below
- 5 lbs crawfish or about a 1-gallon bag full (whole, not yet peeled)
- Various crawfish boil leftover veggies (2 small ears of corn, a couple of potatoes, a few mushrooms, a link of sausage, an artichoke…whatever you put in there)
- 1 bunch of cooked asparagus (about 24)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced (about 4 tablespoons)
- 1/3 small green bell pepper, diced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/3 teaspoon liquid crab boil
- 1 tablespoon white wine
- 2 cups milk, warm
- 1/3 cup Italian Parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and insert two racks. Place the four serving plates in the oven each one with two crepes laying side by side on the plate.
- Peel the crawfish, preserving the tail meat. Then cut the corn off of the cob, quarter your mushrooms, chop up the sausage and any other crawfish boil veggies you have. Put everything in separate bowls next to the stove.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a large sauté pan, and add the onion and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes stirring frequently. Sprinkle the flour evenly around the entire pan and stir with a wooden spoon for a few minutes. Do not let the flour mixture brown.
- Add the milk and whisk in quickly to keep lumps from forming. Then add the white wine, crab boil and half of the chopped parsley. Lower the heat and let cook for about 5 minutes. (It will thicken as it cooks) Add the crawfish boil vegetables - adding a total of about one cup but adjust as you desire. Once the vegetables warm up in the sauce, fold in the crawfish tails and turn the heat to low.
- Warm the asparagus by either dunking them in boiling water briefly or microwaving them. Then take the plates out and place two crepes on each plates.
- Place 3 asparagus into the middle of each of the crepes and then scoop a ladle full of sauce over the the asparagus in each crepe. Fold the crepe in half so that the asparagus and crawfish and creme mixture are inside and the outside is dry. Scoop another ladle onto of the two crepes together and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. (Each person's serving should include two crepes, six asparagus and three ladles of sauce)
- Serve immediately.
- Serves 4
- The easiest way to do this is to do a little work on Friday and a little on Saturday. Then you are ready for Crawfish Brunch on Sunday.
- Make a batch of 12 crepes on Friday. After the crepes cool, pile them up, separated by parchment paper, and refrigerate them until Sunday.
- On Saturday, the traditional day for a Crawfish Boil, fill a gallon size plastic bag full of leftover boiled crawfish and a handful of the leftover veggies. Stick them both in the refrigerator until Sunday.
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1⁄4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- vegetable oil
- Add the wet ingredients to a blender.
- Add the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients to that same blender.
- Blend 1 minute, scraping down sides of container if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24.
- Heat a crepe pan or a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil
- Using a dry measuring scoop pour in 1/3 cup of batter into the center of the pan and then tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly. Cook about 1 minute, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook briefly on the other side.
- Cool on a rack or plate as you finish making the rest. Serve as desired.