It is crawfish season here in Louisiana and I always like to feature a crawfish dish on my blog each spring. This year I’m making the appetizer, “Crawfish Queso Dip.” It is incredibly simple to make (less that 15 minutes from start to finish) and surprisingly tasty. If “Kristy’s Matzah Crack” is a home run, then “Crawfish Queso Dip” is a slam dunk. It is easy to devour this mild but flavorful crawfish dip! The Spanish translation for “queso” is cheese. This dip is a variation of the traditional Tex-Mex Queso or white cheese dip found at so many restaurants in Texas and throughout the southwest. It definately is a different way to feature crawfish; as I’ve not seen this recipe in any traditional Louisiana cookbook!
My inspiration for this appetizer is a little restaurant in town, Elsie’s Plate and Pie. Combining crawfish tails with a Tex-Mex cheese sauce was a new idea for me, but we ordered the appetizer and loved it! The crawfish tails and Creole seasoning added just enough flavor to the white cheese sauce to make an awesome dip. And surprise, the restaurant served the dip with fried pork skins! (I served mine with nacho chips.)
Elsie’s Plate and Pie opened in 2018 and is located in a small, unassuming building in the mid-city area of Baton Rouge. The restaurant is the brainchild of Proprietor and Chef Paul Chauvin Dupré. He named the restaurant after his maternal grandmother, Elsie Marie Campeau Rupe of Lockport in Lafourche Parish. Where is Lafourche Parish? It is in the very tip of the state, almost in the Gulf of Mexico. Can’t get much more Cajun that this place. The restaurant’s menu consists of his grandmorther’s sweet and savory pies along with all kinds of other southern favorites including sandwiches, soups and salads. It is the creative presentation of the food which makes this place special plus a friendly, down home atmosphere. It has become a favorite of about everyone who eats a meal there.
“One Pot” Recipe
The recipe is easy to make and contains just a few ingredients. It is a “one pot” recipe; made in a skillet with essentially no pre-prep involved. Just open a few containers. My recipe is a variation of the one which is served at Elsie’s Plate and Pie. For cheese, I used Monterey Jack cheese. It is mild and smooth. I also incorporated cream cheese into the recipe. Let’s reduce the guilt factor by using lower-fat Neufchâtel cheese! I added a few green chiles for southwest flavor and red pimento for color. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning gives a little “bite” to the crawfish dip. Green onions are for garnish.
To make the recipe, sauté peeled crawfish tails in a tablespoon of butter. I used my 7″ diameter cast iron skillet which is just the right size for the recipe although a larger skillet or heavy Dutch oven is okay, too.
Peeled crawfish tails are available in the frozen section of grocery stores for several months in the spring. The crawfish tails are pricy this year! Make sure you are purchasing ones which are harvested in Louisiana and not China. The flavor is entirely different. These crawfish tails are not totally cooked, so they should be sautéed for several minutes. However, don’t overcook the tails — they will become tough.
Next add Creole seasoning along with the green chiles and pimento. Lower the heat on the stove and stir in Monterey Jack cheese and Neufchâtel cheese. Let these melt over low heat (don’t boil). If desired, add a little milk to thin the dip. That’s it!
Serve right from the cast iron skillet, if desired. Garnish with green onions and more pimento. Although the cheeses are white, the crawfish tails imparts a reddish color to the dip.
I served this with nacho chips which complements the flavors of the dip.
Any dish made with cream cheese is a favorite at our home, so much of the dip was immediately consumed by my husband. Although you can substitute many other types of cheeses in the recipe, the combination of Monterey Jack cheese and Neufchâtel cheese was just right. This recipe makes a great party dip or appetizer. It is so easy to mix up. Enjoy!
Crawfish Queso Dip
- 16 oz package frozen, peeled crawfish tails (may reduce to a 12 oz package, if desired)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning or equivalent
- 1 Tbsp diced, green chiles
- 2 oz jar sliced pimentos, reserve several slivers for garnish
- 8 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 8 oz Neufchâtel cheese, cut into chunks, (may substitute cream cheese, if desired)
- 1/2 cup milk, if needed
- 2 sliced green onions, whites and parts of green tops
- parsley, garnish, if desired
- Nacho chips, for serving
Method and Steps:
- Defrost frozen crawfish tails in refrigerator or under slowly running cold water (keep crawfish in package). It doesn’t take long to defrost the crawfish.
- Heat butter in 7″ diameter heavy cast iron skillet, heavy Dutch oven or other heavy skillet. Adjust stove to medium heat. Add defrosted crawfish tails plus any liquid in package. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until crawfish tails are heated throughout. Do not overcook as crawfish will be tough and rubbery.
- Add Tony Chachere’s Creaole Seasoning, green chiles and pimentos. Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat on stove to low. Spread Monterey Jack cheese and chunks of Neufchâtel cheese over top of the crawfish. Gently stir to mix cheeses into crawfish. Let simmer on stove untl cheeses heat and melt.
- If too thick, gently stir in up to 1/2 cup milk.
- When cheeses have melted, remove from stove.
- For serving, sprinkle green onions and reserved pimento over top of crawfish dip and serve directly in cast iron skillet. If desired, transfer to another serving bowl prior to topping with green onions and pimento. Add parsley for garnish, optional.
- Serve with nachos.
- Dip may be refrigerated until ready to serve. Add several tablespoons of milk to dip, stir and heat for a minute in microwave oven. (Make sure serving bowl is microwaveable.)