Photo By Jeff Dennis
A stirring paddle and a pot of crawfish cooked by Tony Chachere.
By Jeff Dennis
Spring is the peak of crawfish season in Louisiana’s Outback and along their Creole Nature Trail. If you can’t get to the Cajun state during spring, this is the proper time to be looking for freshly shipped crawfish at your local seafood store.
For many people, a piping hot pot of boiling crawfish with seasoning sauce is the number one choice for eating this crustacean delicacy. Simply peel the shell and pop it in your mouth for a succulent and savory taste of their white meat, and then repeat this process until your stomach is full or your beverage needs refilling.
A more hearty dish that also celebrates this unique Cajun creation is crawfish etouffee. The etouffee is meant to be served over dirty rice or catfish, in order to complete the main dish of a meal that can also be paired with fresh vegetables such as okra or corn.
One of the most well-known seasonings from the land of creole cuisine is Tony Chachere’s seasoning salt. This brand is named after a legendary wild game chef in the Atchafalaya Basin who was known as the ‘Old Master’ and who was the inaugural inductee into the Louisiana Chef’s Hall of Fame before his passing.
Chachere’s grandson, also named Tony Chachere, is a lifelong duck hunter who also enjoys freshwater bass fishing. His passion for hunting wild turkeys brings him to South Carolina in spring and he always travels with many pounds of fresh crawfish to fix in a black cast iron pot for his hunting friends.
“My etouffee sauce starts simmering about 10 a.m. and I add ingredients all day long,” said Chachere. “I bring several pounds of fresh crawfish from back home in Louisiana that has never been frozen, and they remain chilled until I add them to the pot about 5 p.m. for an hour of cooking.”
Other ingredients used are butter, onions, bell peppers, garlic, parsley, green onions and crawfish fat is added for flavor. Tony Chachere’s seasoning salt comes in a variety of forms such as a low sodium variety, but in most cases, he recommends adding the original creole sauce or the more spicy variety, with lots of tasting along the way to make sure it is just right.
When hunters eat Tony’s cooking there are always two lines. The first line to fill up a plate for supper, and the second line is to get a take home plate for leftovers. No etouffee will goes to waste, and turkey hunters will work up an appetite for more crawdads after dawn patrol in the woods the following morning.
For smaller gatherings, cooking crawfish etouffee requires about an hour of preparation and cooking time. Begin by melting butter in a large skillet and then stir in flour. Cook over low heat for 20-minutes until a pastes develops, then add all other ingredients and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 30-minutes and add the crawfish.
- 1 Cup chopped onion
- 1/4 Cup butter
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 1/4 Cup chopped celery
- 1/4 Cup chopped green pepper
- 1/4 Cup minced green onion
- 1 Pound Crawfish tail meat
- 3 Cups water (or broth)
- Black pepper, lemon juice, garlic
The author’s Lowcountry Outdoors blog is celebrating a tenth anniversary in 2019.