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Last Friday was Good Friday, which means most people in my area were scrambling for crabs, crawfish, and shrimp to boil. Boils are a bit part of the social scene here in south Louisiana. It’s a time for good food and excellent conversation. For those of you who don’t have crawfish boils in your part of the world, I’m going to take you through a little of the process.
Before you can even get started with a boil party, you have to get all the fixings. Crawfish, crabs, shrimp, and all the fixings. Fixings are potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, garlic, and anything else you can possibly think of boiling. For us, we like to add mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, and sausage to the mix. Fixings tend to soak up all of the seasoning that doesn’t make it to the seafood. They’re perfect fillers. Once you have all of the sides and seafood, it’s time to head to the boil.
We had our crawfish boil at my sister’s house. Generally, boiling is kind of like barbecuing: it’s a man thing. In this case, my brother-in-law and brother were the boil masters with my nephews providing manual labor. The first step in the process for a good boil is purging:
In this picture, you have a basket of crawfish sitting in water. We add salt to the water to help purge dirt and impurities from the crawfish before they even reach the pot. As many of you know, crawfish are also called “mudbugs” and they’re called this for a very good reason: they live in the mud. Purging them cleanses them of mud and keeps you from having a dirty taste in your mouth while you’re eating.
After the purging, the crawfish are dropped in a boiling pot filled with seasonings. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how to add the seasonings since every boil master has their own secret ingredients. All I know, is that the propane tanks are loud, which means you have to shout to be heard.
This isn’t the best picture, but what you have here is my sister’s miniature dachshund, Minnie, taking on a crawfish contender. Minnie won and tried to eat the crawfish alive. We had to snatch it away from her before she could show the crawfish the inside of a puppy dog.
While crawfish is boiling and purging, it’s time for everyone to visit. This means breaking out the drinks (beer, wine, water) and throwing yourself down in a chair because it’s such hard work standing around building up your appetite. My brother-in-law took the time to share his man cave with my brother and a friend of his. Yes, all the men disappeared into the shed leaving all of the women to sit down and soak up the sun.
But they couldn’t be gone for long! Oh no, not when there’s crawfish boiling!
In this picture, my brother is lifting a boiled basket of crawfish out of the pot. My brother-in-law (genius that he is) has a system where they’ll place two planks on top of the pot to help drain the water before the crawfish is carried to the tables. Normally everyone runs out of the way when the basket comes out of the pot because that water is hot! Don’t you just love his shirt? He looked like he was ready for a crawfish boil…with his glow in the dark legs and everything!
The minute the first pot is finished, everyone stampedes to the tables to eat. I can’t eat crawfish because I’m allergic to something in it, but my brother-in-law and sister were sweet enough to make sure I had crabs to eat instead. They were so, so good!
So have you ever been to a boil?