Crawfish Pies

Crawfish Pies
 It may seem entirely unfair to write about the utter satisfaction of serving forth a platter of hot from the oven crawfish pies in December, but in my defense, it took an awful lot of reserve to keep two containers of Crawfish Etouffee in the freezer. Especially since Mr. B often states that if he's ever on his way to the electric chair, crawfish would be on his list of final requests.

Living in California makes it entirely too hard to eat our Louisiana hearts out--the short drive to the beach and the natural beauty don't come without sacrifice--so we have to work a little harder to keep our larder filled with Southern delicacies. Here lately, it's become a sort of yearly ritual for us to join up with another displaced Southerner and hold an annual crawfish boil. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but someone has to drive 3 hours--one way--to pick the crawfish up at the airport. That's a lot of dedication for a meal.

Anyhow, crawfish pie is the perfect little appetizer to serve up along with a few cocktails and since they just happen to be up there with oyster patties on my list of holiday eats, my resolve paid off. I stretched mine out far enough to get just over 4 dozen--enough to keep Mr. B happy for at least a few weeks.

If you live near a city, you could probably find crawfish tails--or a grocery of seafood market willing to order them for you. You could also opt to order them online, or if you'd rather, just substitute shrimp for the crawfish--though it won't be the same, it will still be good.

Here's my recipe from way back when:

Crawfish and Grits

1 pound peeled crawfish tails
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 green pepper, finely diced
2 toes of garlic, finely minced
2 whole tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white vermouth
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups shrimp or crawfish stock
1-2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste
1-2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 small squeeze of lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley

1. Put one stick of the butter into a cast iron skillet and melt.
2. Add the onion, celery, green pepper and garlic and cook until the vegetables are very soft.
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, about half the stock and the white vermouth; add the bay leaves.
4. Simmer until the liquid is significantly reduced; add the rest of the stock and the tomato paste and reduce again.
5. Stir in the black pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
6. Whisk in the butter.
7. Add the crawfish tails and cook until they are warmed through and the sauce is hot and thick.
8. Add the squeeze of lemon and stir in the parsley.
9. Let cool.
10. Cut out rounds of pastry dough (or, packaged pie dough) and fill with a heaping teaspoon of filling; crimp edges to seal.
11. Freeze in a single layer on a sheet pan, then store in zippered freezer bags.
12. To cook, arrange in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and hot; serve immediately.


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