Crawfish is a Louisiana novelty; in season in the spring. Traditionally, this fresh-water crustacean is boiled in a large pot with plenty of spices added. Then peel the tails, eat the meat and enjoy. There are other ways to prepare the crawfish meat; one of my favorites is crawfish pie–shown here in an individual phyllo shell.
Crawfish breed and live in the swamps of Louisiana. In recent years they are also raised in commercial crawfish ponds. In the spring the weather warms up; the crawfish come out of their burrows, feed and grow. Then the crawfish farmers set out traps, harvest and sell the crawfish.
Years ago, some friends took us on adventure into the swamp to catch the crawfish. We went in a flat bottom boat early in the morning. Then one brave person climbed over the side of the boat — with heavy fishermen’s boots on — set the traps which were baited with chicken necks. The water was about knee deep. After waiting some time; one person climbed back over the side of the boat into the water, pulled up the traps and hauled the crawfish into the boat. Later in the day our hosts boiled the crawfish.
It was a memorable experience to feel the crawfish scurrying in the muddy swamp bottom; and wondering what else might be lurking. Fun but something I don’t plan to do again! I’d rather just purchase the boiled crawfish or peeled crawfish tails.
Here’s a traditional crawfish boil at an event several years ago.
And the boiled crawfish.
And the guests peeling the crawfish tails.
I personally would rather purchase peeled crawfish tails and use them in a recipe such as crawfish etouffee or stew. One of my favorite ways to prepare the crawfish tails is to make a crawfish pie. This is comparable to a meat pie. It is easy, tasty and the flaky pie shell gives a flavor contrast. It is not highly spiced–just enjoy the crawfish which are sauteed in onions and celery.
The Crawfish Pie recipe is one that I’ve kept all these years–I don’t throw away a good recipe. It’s from a friend who says she didn’t mind if I used it. Here are most of the ingredients.
Chop the seasonings — onion and celery — very finely using a food processor, and saute them in oil until they are wilted and lose their raw taste.
Add the seasonings – salt, black pepper, cayenne red pepper, parsley and green onions. Just a little tomato paste is added. Make more spicy by adding additional cayenne red pepper. (Be careful, a little goes a long way.) Also, water and cornstarch are added to thicken the filling. The filling is simmered on the stove until it thickens for about 15 minutes. At this point the filling is cooked; it just needs heating as the pie shell bakes.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and bake until the pie shell is cooked and the filling is bubbly.
I got the bright idea of making individual phyllo pastry shells by placing the tarts in extra large muffin tins for baking. The idea needs a little refinement but generally worked well and tasted great!
Half a package of phyllo dough (8 oz) was the right amount.
I spread three sheets out on a large cutting board spreading each layer with margarine.
I cut these sheets in half crosswise – then folded into a triangle and fitted into the muffin tins. This part needs a little more perfection. However you make the shells, about 6 layers is the right amount of phyllo dough for each tart. I baked the shells at 350 degrees for 15 minutes so that the filling wouldn’t become soggy.
Then I added the filling and baked/heated. Once the filling is added to the baked shells; they only need to heat in the oven about five minutes to blend the flavors.
Here’s one out of the muffin tin; about to be eaten.
Our family purchases boiled crawfish, peels and eats them in our backyard several times during the spring. I like to try other ways of preparing them, too. The crawfish pie is delicious. If you can find some peeled crawfish tails, try this recipe! I included the original recipe using a pie crust. A few of my adaptations are in parenthesis.
Louisiana Crawfish Pie from Peggy Arcement
- 1/4 cup cooking oil (I reduced this to 2 Tbsp)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 1/2 ribs celery, chopped ( reduced this to 1 rib)
- 1/2 tsp tomato paste (I increased this to 1 Tbsp)
- 1 tsp parsley flakes (or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley)
- 1 lb peeled crawfish tails
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup green onions
- Salt to taste (1/2 tsp)
- Pepper to taste (1/4 tsp)
- Red cayenne pepper to taste (1/4 tsp)
- Unbaked double pie shell (I use a single pie shell)
Method and Steps
- Saute onions and celery in oil until wilted.
- Add tomato paste, parsley flakes and crawfish tails. Stir and cook for 10 minutes.
- Mix cornstarch with water. Add to crawfish and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add green onion and seasonings for last 5 minutes.
- Pour into unbaked pie shell. Place second pie shell over top (optional). Cut slits in top of pie and crimp edges of crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees until crust is browned.
Enjoy one of our specialties!