Having a crawfish boil is just about as southern Louisiana as you can get. Heck, my home state has a number of festivals that celebrate the wonderful creature that is the crawfish. Crawfish boils bring families and friends together for great fellowship and good times.
Boiling crawfish is an art form, and everyone that does it has their own way of doing things. This list is comprised of all the necessary ingredients for a perfect crawfish boil. This list was inspired by @djevoke's Crab Feed (we call them crab boils in Louisiana) list.
If you're interested in doing a crawfish boil and have never had the chance, I highly recommend asking someone who has done crawfish boils before to let you assist them on boils a few times before venturing out on your own. Once you've got the basics down, you're ready for your own boil.
Crawfish boils require multiple hands to get the job done. From purging the crawfish to setting up tables to making that all important beer run, everybody helps during a crawfish boil. Of course, the boil master has the final say as to when the crawfish are ready, but without the help of others, it would be a very tough job.
The most important ingredient of any crawfish boil is, obviously, crawfish. The peak season for these tasty treats is February through Memorial Day, but you can usually get them in January and even as late as July. Live crawfish are almost always sold in large thirty to forty pound sacks. On the average, a person can eat three to five pounds of boiled crawfish, so use this as a guide in determining how many you will need for your boil.
Okay, it's technically called Zatarain's Crab Boil, but nothing tastes better than Zatarain's in a crawfish boil. While it's all done to taste, I prefer to use one seventy-three oz. jar of dry crab boil per forty pounds of crawfish. What I usually do is dump the first jar in for the first batch of crawfish and then, after boiling the second batch, dump in the second jar. This gives you both mild and spicy servings of crawfish to suit all tastebuds.
At a minimum I would have a sixty quart pot on hand to boil the crawfish in. While a sixty quart pot can handle about thirty pounds of crawfish, keep in mind that you'll also have a lot of other ingrediennts taking up room as well. For that reason, I recommend an eighty quart pot. Be sure that it includes a perforated basket. This is essential for transferring the boiled goodies to and from the table.
Salt is used to purge the crawfish before you boil them. Use at least one pound per thirty pound sack of crawfish. Dump the sack of live crawfish into a large ice chest and then pour the salt over them while spraying them down with water. I usually get the water deep enough to cover all of the crawfish and let them sit in the salt for a few minutes (longer if I'm already boiling another batch). This cleans out any wastes the crawfish might have in them.
Depending on the size of the potatoes you buy, be sure to pick up enough to satisfy everyone in your party. I prefer to use smaller red potatoes as they don't take up as much space and cook much faster than larger spuds. Once I get my pot boiling, I put the potatoes and all of the other non-crawfish goodies in for at least ten minutes before adding the crawfish.
I usually throw in three whole yellow onions into each batch of crawfish I boil. You can get smaller boiler onions, but it's entirely up to you. Most of the people I boil for do not eat the onions, so I mainly use them for flavor, but every once in awhile I will have a friend over who will eat them like apples. They soak up the seasonings very well and can be a very nice treat.
I usually throw about a dozen good sized mushrooms into each batch of crawfish I boil. If there's a large crowd, I use more. These babies are seasoning magnets, and will often taste better than the crawfish in my opinion.
Depending on the crowd size, throw in as much corn on the cob as you want. Each ear of corn should be cut into four or five inch pieces to allow them to fit into the boiler easier and not take up a lot of space.
I personally do not throw sticks of butter into my crawfish boils, but I listed butter anyway due to the fact that a lot of my friends and fellow boilers believe that adding butter makes peeling the crawfish easier. If you adhere to this belief, throw in at least two four oz. sticks of butter into each batch of crawfish. The debate goes on.
Add as much sausage as you want to each batch of crawfish. I prefer to use a local butcher shop's sausage, but if you're looking for a brand from Louisiana that you'll actually have a chance of finding in the store, I recommend Savoie's.
While it isn't a necessity, I find that crawfish always go down better with beer. I prefer to drink the standards such as Coors Light, Bud Light, or Miller Lite while eating crawfish due to the fact that it's usually pretty warm when I boil crawfish and I prefer a lighter beer when I'm cooking, but you're free to drink whatever you want.
Now that we've established what you need to actually boil the crawfish, the rest of this list will be used to help you serve them and clean up. The first essential item is a tarpaulin, or tarp for short. Any size tarp that will cover a table or whatever surface you happen to be using to serve the crawfish on is good to use. You might want to go with a cheap one that you can ball up along with all of the empty shells, trash, etc. and dump it, or reuse (recommended) the same tarp each time. Tarps can be cleaned with dish detergent and a decent scrubbing brush after each use.
While you can serve crawfish on pretty much any hard surface, I do recommend using a picnic table or any foldout type of table to lay the food on. It helps to have a few chairs too. I'll list an alternate serving method farther down this list.
You'll need ice chests to hold your live crawfish in, as well as a chest to purge them in before boiling. You might also want a couple of ice chests to put boiled crawfish in if you run out of room on your table. Oh, and don't forget the all important ice chest used to keep your adult beverages and other drinks cool.
Some folks might laugh at this recommendation, but I highly recommend a large empty cable spool be used as a table if you can get your hands on one. Why? For the simple fact that you can turn this bad boy on its side and have an instant table. Lay a tarp or newpapers around the surface and then slide a trash bag into the spool's hole for a quick clean up device. Sure, this sounds mighty redneck of me, but it works wonderfully!
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more