Perhaps the grandest dish in all of Cajun and Creole cuisine.
This spicy, hearty bisque is sometimes served as thin as a soup,
sometimes even thicker than an étouffée -- adjust
the consistency to suit your taste. What makes it unique among
all bisques in the culinary world is the addition of the stuffed
crawfish heads (shells, actually) with crawfish dressing ... heavenly.
For the bisque:
20 pounds live crawfish
4 packets Zatarain's Crab, Shrimp and Crawfish Boil seasoning
3 lemons quartered
6 tbs butter
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, finely minced
1 large bell pepper, finely minced
3 ribs celery, finely minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
5 cups shellfish stock or water
1 tbs salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste - ** Watch Out, Don't Overdo It !!
1 tbs Creole Seasoning
1/4 ts cayenne pepper ** Careful Here, Don't Overdo It !!!
2 tsp thyme
1/2 cup chopped green onion tops
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 dozen stuffed crawfish heads (see below)
About 7-1/2 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice
Prepare a large crawfish-boiling pot with enough water for boiling the
crawfish; add Zatarain's and lemons and bring to a boil. Drop the
crawfish in live, and boil for 10 minutes. Ice down the boil and let the
crawfish soak in the cold spiced water; the longer you let them soak, the
more seasoning will be absorbed.
Break off the tails. Peel the tails, removing the vein but reserving the
little flap of crawfish meat that's over the vein. Remove the crawfish
fat from the heads (the little yellow glob that's worth its weight in
gold) and reserve in a separate container.
Clean 5 dozen crawfish heads for stuffing. The so-called "head"
is actually the large red thorax shell. Remove all inside parts,
including the eyes and antennae. What should remain is a little tube with
two open ends and one open side. Be careful; the shell must be scraped
clean on the inside and it can be a bit rough on the fingers. (I'm told
that a beer can opener makes this job easier.) Divide the crawfish fat
and tails evenly, reserving half for the bisque and half for the
Prepare the stuffed crawfish heads according to the recipe below. This is
very labor-intensive, and takes a long time; most folks I know take two
days to make crawfish bisque, cooking the crawfish, cleaning the heads and
stuffing them the day before, and cooking the bisque on the second day.
Recruit some help if you can. Place the stuffed heads in a pan and
To prepare the bisque, make a roux with the butter, oil and flour. Cook
over low-medium heat, being careful not to scorch the butter, until the
roux turns light brown. Stir CONSTANTLY. This means constantly,
without stopping for anything. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery and
garlic, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables
are soft and the roux is peanut butter-colored. Remove from heat and
cool, continuing to stir.
Gradually and carefully add the stock or water (stock preferably) and combine
thoroughly, making a nice gravy. Add half of the crawfish tails and crawfish fat,
Creole seasoning, salt and peppers, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
If you've got a little leftover crawfish stuffing, add it to the pot as well, as
it adds more body and flavor.
Add the baked or sautéed crawfish heads, and cook over low heat for
30 minutes. Add the onion tops and parsley just before serving.
To serve, mound about 3/4 cup rice in large bowl, and divide the bisque
evenly between them. Serve 6 stuffed crawfish heads with each serving.
Don't worry about table manners; you almost have to use your fingers
to get the stuffing out of the heads, and I've seen some folks (like
me) inserting tongue into crawfish head to lick all the stuffing out.
If you want to be more dainty, the tail end of your fork or spoon, or
the end of a butter knife, helps get the stuffing out more easily. Make
sure everyone gets the same number of heads, or fights will break out;
they're that good. I'm told that tradition requires the empty heads to be
placed around the rim of the bowl, so that some don't get more than others.
It's easier to count them quickly that way.
For the stuffed crawfish heads:
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 medium onions, finely minced
1 large bell pepper, finely minced
3/4 cup stock or water
2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper - ** Watch Out - Don't Overdo It !!
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ** Careful - Don't Overdo It !!!
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 cups plain French bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup minced green onions with tops
4 tbs butter, melted
5 dozen cleaned crawfish heads
Flour for dusting
Make a roux (Optional) with the oil and flour. Add onions and bell peppers
and cook until tender, stirring constantly. Mince or grind the remaining
half of the crawfish tails and add to the roux-onion mixture. Add the
remaining crawfish fat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add stock, salt, peppers, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, green onions and
butter. Combine thoroughly, adjusting the consistency with more stock or
more bread crumbs as needed.
Fill each head with stuffing. Roll in flour and bake at 350F for 15
minutes, or fry in hot oil until the stuffing is golden brown.
Print This Recipe