Thursday, April 28, 2011

Crawfish Pie, Ella?

Let's face it, there are only about three ways you eat crawfish: boiled on newspaper, etoufee'd, and as a cream sauce over crepes. Now look there is nothing wrong with any of the above. But for all the talk about how crawfish crazy people in South Louisiana get during the Spring, we sure get uncreative with how to cook this delicious crustacean.

But one need not stray too far from conventional ingredients to get an utterly delicious crawfish dish. Rice, andouille, crawfish, these are all things that "grow" together, so why not use them in a paella. Originally I wanted to make an andouille, crawfish and fava bean paella, but somehow I ended up walking 6.2 miles thru New Orleans on a steamy Saturday morning and missed the Farmer's Market. So asparagus and peas were called in for relief, and performed quite admirably.

Andouille, Crawfish, Asparagus, and Pea Paella
Adapted from a Jose Andres recipe or two, Serves 6



Andouille, used 3 links of Richards cut into 1/4 inch rounds
Crawfish tails, 2 cups or thereabouts from yesterday's boil
Arborio Rice (easier to find than Bomba), 2 cups
Chicken Stock, 5-6 Cups
Soffrito*, 1/2 cup
White wine, 1 cup
Peas, 1 cup
Asparagus, 1 of those rubberbanded stalk packs, cut into 1" segments
Saffron, pinch
Bay leaf
Olive Oil
Garlic clove, 1 finely minced
Patience

First blanch your asparagus and peas in heavily salted water until cooked. Now shock them in ice water. Drain and set aside.

Heat a paella pan over high heat. Don't have a paella pan, bet you could use a cast iron skillet. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Saute your andouille rounds until brown on each side. Then add 1/2 cup of the soffrito mixture. And cook for two minutes or so. Then add, cup of wine and reduce by half. Note bassets will not leave the pan's side at this point.

Now, add in your garlic, 5 cups of the stock, and the saffron. Bring to a boil and add in the rice, stirring for 5 minutes fairly constantly. The rice should start floating barely, if it doesn't add another half cup of stock. Reduce heat to a simmer. Sprinkle the crawfish on top and walk away. Don't touch the paella, don't poke it, don't stir it. Just let it be.



Once most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, sprinkle the peas and asparagus on top. Let cook for another 5 minutes (all liquid should be absorbed), remove from heat, and let sit for about 5 minutes. Now enjoy. Perhaps soon that familiar refrain will read Jambalaya, Crawfish Paella, File Gumbo.



*Soffrito is basically a cousin of Creole Sauce. Take 4 Spanish onions and chop them finely. Slowly cook them until they caramelize. Cut 8 tomatoes in half and grate the inside into a bowl. Toss the skins in garbage. After the onions have slowly cooked for about an episode of The Wire, add one diced jalapeno and the juice from the tomatoes. Cook for another 30 minutes, let cool.  Keeps well, very good on eggs.