It starts with a good supply of crawfish, spicy Louisiana-style music, and a beautiful spring afternoon. Set up your backyard for a party and invite a large group of fun-loving friends with a taste for spicy cuisine, and you're ready to have a crawfish boil.
If you live in Louisiana, you've no doubt already been to or heard of these informal backyard gatherings. But if you don't live in Cajun country, you'll find it a tradition well worth exporting. Ask natives what they like about these boils and they invariably mention the casual atmosphere.
The unrushed atmosphere that's a necessary part of a crawfish boil seems to relax people. As guests peel and eat the crawfish, they talk, tell jokes, and catch up with each other. The typical pattern at a boil is to eat, take a break, then return to the table to crack and pull again.
The food's messy nature is also a part of its appeal. Folks elbow up to the table to eat their fill, feasting not only on the tasty crustaceans, but also on other bounty from the pot, including corn on the cob, potatoes, and, in recent years, artichokes and garlic.
The following recipes, resources, and checklists will help make your crawfish boil as authentic as a gathering down on the bayou. As they say in Cajun country, Laissez les bons temps rouler! ("Let the good times roll!")
All set to invite your friends over to a boil? Here's what you will need to host a successful crawfish party.
The traditional crawfish boil is a rustic affair with layers of newspapers spread across an outdoor table, mounds of hot, spicy crawfish piled in the center, and no chairs required. To dress up a crawfish boil for special occasions -- while still holding true to the spirit of the bayous -- try our fun entertaining twists:
Eating a crawfish is easier than it seems. Here's how to peel and savor a cooked crawfish. (As with a lobster, you only eat the tail meat.)
Step 1: Grasp the head with one thumb and forefinger, and the tail section with the other. Twist the tail section while firmly holding the head.
Steps 2 and 3: Discard the head and peel away the top two to three rings of the tail shell. Squeeze the end of the tail while pulling out the tail meat.
Crawfish may not be sold at your grocery store, but you can still host a crawfish boil by mail-ordering them. Follow these ordering rules:
Crawfish Boil Here are the basic steps to making the main dish. Be sure to order your crawfish ahead of time, and plan on overnight delivery.
Crawfish-Boil Seasoning Sure, you can buy seafood-boil seasoning mix, but it's more fun to make your own spicy mixture to fire up your crawfish feast.
Tangy Dipping Sauce Some people prefer their crawfish straight from the shell; others like it with a dip. Garnish your dipping sauce with a little parsley for color.