What do you do when you have crawfish leftover from a boil? No, really. What do you do? The easiest thing, and therefore the one I usually do, is make pasta. But I would love to hear what you do.
I don’t know if Mrs. G was feeling bad for me for all the cooking I did this past weekend, or whether she just wanted to get into the kitchen and stretch her creative wings, but this meal is brought to you from her. And I’m so glad she did, not only because it was AMAZING, but because if it was left up to me, we probably would have had Whataburger. 🙂
I suppose when I was taking my usual Sunday afternoon nap, Mrs. G got online and started searching for a recipe that she wanted to make. I don’t know how long she took (although my nap was probably a good 2 hours), or what other things she looked at, but she decided to make Paula Deen’s Crawfish Fettuccine.
Paula’s recipe serves 8-10 people. Well, there’s just two of us. We don’t mind leftovers, but that was way too much for us. Not to mention that we didn’t have enough crawfish. Mrs. G cut the recipe in half to better accommodate us.
1/4 pound (1 stick) butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (Mrs. G left this out as she knows I can’t stand them. Is that love or what?)
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3/4 cups milk
1/2 (10.75-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces processed cheese with jalapenos, cubed
16 oz of cooked, peeled crawfish (leftovers from a Crawfish Boil work perfectly)
8 oz fettuccine, cooked
Fresh chopped chives, for garnish
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the flour and Cajun seasoning and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir in the milk and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the soup and cheese, stirring until the cheese is melted.
Add the crawfish, and cook until warmed through.
Serve over the fettuccine. Garnish with chives, if desired.
Mrs. Deen calls for processed cheese with jalapenos in her sauce. We didn’t have that on hand, so we just subbed in Velveeta. No need to make everything we eat spicy, is there?
See? I told you I was going to reveal what we did with those leftover crawfish from the crawfish boil.
I sure do love crawfish! Wonder if we could tweak this sauce and come up with a killer seafood enchiladas? Hmmmm….that’s a thought for another day, back to the topic at hand.
Wow!! What a decadent meal! Super rich and creamy. Full of flavor. Hope you aren’t on a diet or watching your calories or health. Recipes like this probably didn’t help Paula avoid diabetes. Is that too mean to say? I suppose if you limit how often you eat dishes like this, you’ll be ok. It was really tasty. I don’t think it lacked anything for not having processed cheese with jalapenos or the bell pepper. Mrs. G did comment on how she would like to tweak this to limit the amount of butter and fat in it. Try to make it more healthy. I’m all for that. While it was good, I can’t eat food like that every day. Probably shouldn’t eat it more than once a week, if that. But a life of boring bland food is a life not worth living!! So enjoy. And maybe pencil in a walk or a workout for later.
Sometimes (like when I’m on top of my game), we do the cooks and write them up and schedule them for later. This cook was actually done Sunday and I wrote it up Monday and Tuesday even though it wasn’t scheduled to be posted until Friday. I don’t know if ironic is the word, maybe it was just karma biting me in the ass. Anyways….went to the doctor on Wednesday and it turns out I have diabetes. Guess maybe I shouldn’t have made that comment in the last paragraph. Whoops. Never fear! We are going to tackle this thing head on and follow the doctor’s orders. Sure, I’m going to have to learn to adjust my lifestyle and eating habits, but we are going to continue to bring you great tasting food, I promise! Just maybe not like this dish represented here. But still…good food. Hope y’all have a great weekend and a Happy Easter.
Crawfish season is here!! And has been for a while, this is just our first home made batch this year. One of my favorite seasonal foods. You may call them crawfish, or crayfish or even mudbugs. Me? I just call them good. This post is going to be more about technique than it is about any specific recipe. Thing is, I don’t really have a recipe. Just a bit of this, some of that, and a little of this and you got yourself some Good Eats as Alton Brown would say. The amounts used in this batch was for 6 adults.
First thing you want to do when you get your live crawfish is to dump them into a cooler and fill with cold water. If you are going to cook them soon or its chilly out, there’s no need to ice them down. If it’s a hot day or you are going to wait before cooking them, add some ice with the water. The reason you want them in cold water is not just to keep them alive and fresh, but you also want to “clean them out”. If you haven’t done this before, you’ll see what I mean. The water is going to get really dirty. I recommend draining and refilling it a couple of times until the water is clean. Not necessary, but it can be pretty nasty looking.
While you can do a boil inside, I wouldn’t recommend it. One, if you are doing a big batch, it’s going to take forever to get that water boiling. Two, it’s going to be messy. Three, your house is going to smell. Plus, it’s just more fun to cook outside. You are going to need a propane tank, a propane burner (you should be able to find one for about $25), and an aluminum pot with strainer (starting around $40 depending on how large of one you get)
Once you have your equipment all hooked up, fill up your pot about halfway and set on top of burner. Add your seafood boil spices. I like to use Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil.
How much you add is going to depend on the amount you are cooking and your level of heat tolerance. I like to go with about a cup and half to two cups. At this point, add 2 lemons that have been sliced in half. Give them a good squeeze into the water before dropping them in. Bring your water up to a boil. After the water begins to boil, add in some red potatoes. This will vary on your crowd and how hungry they are, but I figure about 2 per person works out pretty good. Let those boil for about 5 minutes and then add your corn. I like to cut each cob into 1/3 and for this batch added in a total of 4 corn cobs.
Allow the corn and taters to boil for another 5 minutes, add in some andouille sausage. Our family likes sausage, so we added in 2lbs of sliced andouille sausage. Allow to boil for 5 more minutes and then turn off flame.
Finally, add in 1 lb of button mushrooms and your crawfish and allow to steep in the water. Don’t worry if they all won’t fit in. We had 15lbs and they didn’t all fit in. Just add what you can and allow them to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. The longer they steep, the spicier they will be. If you have more crawfish, drain the contents of the strainer and dump into a clean ice chest. Return the pot to the burner and restart the flame. Bring the water back up to a boil. At this point, you may want to add another 1/2 cup of seasoning. Once the water is boiling rapidly (which should only take a few minutes), turn the flame off and add the rest of the crawfish. Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
Now, the best way to serve crawfish is to line an outdoor table with some type of water proof liner. I like to slice open trash bags until they are a flat sheet and then duct tape them down to a table, others use butcher paper or newspaper (but I find it will leak through to the table). Then simple dump out all the drained boil onto the table and stand back while the hoards attack. Unfortunately, we don’t have an outdoor table, so we opted to be a bit more civilized and used a few big platters.
Make sure to have plenty of paper towels and large bowls to throw the head and shells as well as the cobs. Turn on some jazz music, dig in and pretend you are in New Orleans. An ice cold Abita might help with the illusion. 🙂
Mrs. G wanted to add some artichokes to the boil, but the store was out. Tell me about your boils. What other ingredients do you like in your boils? Do you “suck the heads”? That’s where all the good stuff and spice is. 😉 How many pounds can you eat?
And FYI, we had 6 adults eating 15 lbs of crawfish. The next day Mrs. G and I shelled the remaining crawfish…we had 12 oz remaining. Tune in tomorrow to see what we did with it.
Ok, ok, so you still want a recipe? Here’s a loose list for 6 people, adjust to your crowd and what you like. There’s really no wrong or right.
15 lbs of live crawfish
12 red potatoes
4 ears of corn (cut into 1/3)
2 lbs of andouille mushrooms
1 lb of white button mushrooms
2 lemons, sliced in half
Big ole jar of Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil
Even though sausage is probably one of my favorite smoked meats, its been awhile since we’ve made any. It’s just such a long process, but the results are well worth it. This past Christmas, I got a 5lb LEM Sausage Stuffer. Prior to that I was just using my grinder as a stuffer. While that works, it’s not really ideal. I had no idea how well my new sausage stuffer would work till we put it into action this past weekend. This thing is awesome!! If you are making sausage and don’t have a dedicated stuffer, I highly recommend picking one up.
After the last batch of sausage, Mrs. G informed me that she wanted to try a jalapeno cheese sausage. I like jalapeno cheese sausage, so I was not opposed.
Friday, I was in need of some sausage casings and some pork shoulder. I’ve been wanting to try out Hirsch’s Meat Market in Plano for a while, so I gave them a call and they had everything I needed. If you are looking for a good butcher in Plano, I highly recommend them. Not only do they carry all kinds of meat, the carry a wide variety of wood from the basic mesquite and hickory, to pecan, peach, plum, citrus and grape, just to name a few. Super friendly staff and very helpful.
They set me up with 2.5 lbs of pork shoulder (that had a ton of marbling) and .62lbs of pork back fat to make up for the lack of fat in my venison (in sausage, fat is your friend).
BTW, if you don’t have a scale, you are going to need to get one. (Did you know different salts weigh different amounts? That’s why using a volumetric amount for salt doesn’t make sense and weight does)
2.25 lbs (36 oz) pork butt
2.25 lbs (36 oz) venison
0.01 lbs (.12 oz or 1/8 oz) granulated garlic
0.02 lbs (0.38 oz or 3/8 oz) black pepper
0.09 lbs (1.44 oz or 1 and 4/8 oz) salt
0.03 lbs (0.40 oz or 3/8 oz) sugar
0.03 lbs (0.40 oz or 3/8 oz) dried jalapenos or 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and deveined
0.43 lbs (6.80 oz or 6 3/4 oz) cheddar cheese, cubed small
3 to 5 oz of water
0.01 lbs (0.12 oz or 1/8 oz) of Cure #1
Cube up your pork, venison and back fat into pieces small enough to fit through your grinder. Place meat and all metal parts of your grinder into the freezer for 30 minutes. (Heat is your enemy when making sausage. It causes the fat to melt and smear. You don’t want that). After 30 minutes, assemble grinder and using a medium grind attachment, grind all your meat.
Mix up the spices in a small bowl. Work the spices, jalapenos and cheese into the meat with your hands, adding the water in small amounts as you go.
Take a small portion and test fry a patty. Adjust the seasonings as needed.
At this point, the meat can be stuffed into hogs casings. I prefer to let it sit covered overnight in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld and marry and stuffing the next day, however.
Stuff the hogs casings with the meat mixture following your stuffer’s instructions. I chose to do my sausage in 1lb links this time (or as close as I could get them, LOL), but you can make them whatever length or size you want.
Allow sausage to sit out at room temperature for one hour to allow them to dry out. If you have a small fan, you can use it to blow across them. Meanwhile, set up your smoker as low as you can get it. 100F to 130 F would be ideal. Do NOT add wood for smoke at this point.
Add your sausages to the smoker and allow to further dry for one hour.
After one hour, bump the temperature to 140F and add wood chunks for smoke. We used pecan and some hickory chips. Every hour after, bump the temperature 10 more degrees until your sausage hits 155F.
When your sausage hits 155F, remove from smoker and plunge into and ice bath to stop the cooking. Allow to cool.
Once cooled, remove from ice bath and let bloom for one hour (Sit out at room temperature either on a drying rack or hanging up).
Refrigerate or vacuum seal and freeze for a later date.
I’d like to say that with my Big Green Egg and pit controller, I was able to follow my smoking instructions perfectly. Unfortunately, it was not to be. I was having a problem getting that small of a fire started. It went out once on me while I was trying to get it stable. I ended up putting the sausage on at 145-150F and about 25 minutes later, I had to pull everything out and restart the fire.
At one hour in, my fire was now at 170 (way to hot, way to early). I added two pecan chunks and some hickory chips for smoke. I also wiped away any moisture from the outside of the sausage casings and flipped the ones on top with the ones on bottom. Being open for so long allowed the temp to drop. By 1:30pm, the temp was sitting at 150F which was not so bad.
At two hours in, my temp was around 165. A little high, but still acceptable.
At 3, we were holding steady at 175 but now we were getting short on time. We had people coming over later and I still had to get to the store. So at 3:40, I opened the Egg up a bit to speed things along. By 4:10, we were up to 230F.
Once finished, the sausage was pulled and immediately plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
After cooling, the sausage was allowed to dry on some of those cookie cooling racks for an hour before most of it was sealed with a vacuum sealer and frozen for later. One link did go into the fridge to be sampled on Sunday. It was killing me to wait, but I had to get to the store and get some groceries and get cleaned up for company.
Mrs. G paid me high compliments on this sausage saying “This is the best sausage you’ve made so far!” and “This reminds me of the sausage my dad used to make when I was kid!” Can’t get better compliments than that, especially considering he used to have a BBQ business and made his own sausage.
Me? I enjoyed it, but sometimes I’m my worst critic. It was plenty juicy and had great flavor. Good snap on the casing. But it just wasn’t perfect.
For one, there wasn’t enough heat. I’d like to maybe had some cayenne or red pepper flakes or chipotle powder. Not sure, what do you think? I also didn’t really care for the jalapeno, it still had some crunch to it. Maybe sautee it down a bit or use dried jalapenos next time.
Next comes the cheese. It didn’t melt away, but it did melt. I’m thinking I’m going to use high temp cheese (cheese specifically made not to melt, often used in sausage). Hirsch’s Meat Market has it, so I do have a local source.
The final thing is the texture. I mean it was fine (not a pun, it was really coarse), but I’d like to see what a double grind would do. Once through the medium grind plate, and then a second time through the fine grind plate. But then again, I’m afraid it would end up with the texture of a hot dog, and I really don’t want that.
Not sure, but I do know that I have enough deer in the freezer to make 15 more pounds. 🙂 It was fun making sausage again, don’t know why we don’t do it more often. Oh yeah…’cause its messy (dish wise) and time consuming. But with the new stuffer, it was a breeze. Mrs. G said it was the fastest stuffing session yet. So expect to see more sausage soon. 🙂
A couple of weeks back, I made another batch of this sausage. 15lbs to be exact. I implemented some of the changes I talked about.
First, I took my jalapenos and gave them a quick pulse in the food processor. I then sautéed them up a bit in a skillet so that they would not have that “crunch”. Worked like a charm.
I stuck with a mild cheddar cheese, did not go to a high temp cheese. There’s something about high temp cheese. I’m just not a fan of it. This time when I smoked the sausage, I was able to maintain a temperature under 180F until the very end when I lost patience and jumped it up to 200F. Keeping a low temperature really prevented the cheese from melting in the sausage. I’ll stick with regular cheese.
Didn’t do anything about the heat level of the sausage. I really didn’t want this batch to be spicy.
The final change was the grind. I did a first grind with a medium plate. Then I mixed in my spices and did another grind with a fine plate. Gave it a different texture for sure. Neither a good thing or a bad thing, just different. Since it was fully smoked, I ate some cold and it reminded me of a summer sausage, both in taste and texture. Think I’ll continue the double grind.
Since we made the sausage, I think we’ve eaten 7 links already. We are both happy with it and so have all the other people who have tasted it.
Seems to me there is quite a bit of talk about “farm to market” and “farm to table” in certain parts of the culinary world. While this might be a new trend in the food world, this is nothing new to hunters. Hunters have been doing this since…well, since the first caveman picked up a stick or a rock and killed an animal.
In Texas, hunting is a pretty big deal. Unfortunately, I’m a little late arriving to the party. I didn’t grow up hunting. It wasn’t something my family did. I did, however, marry into a family that has a ranch and knows about hunting. And I do have a brother-in-law who does quite a bit. This past Fall, I finally brought down my first deer! Although somehow in all the excitement, no pictures were taken in proof.
What does this have to do with “farm to table”? I don’t know, but I think that its pretty cool that only the hands of three humans touched this backstrap: me, my brother-in-law who helped me field dress and process the deer and Mrs. G who helped me cook it last night. To me, that’s pretty cool.
I’ve heard jokes about how in Texas we like to chicken fry everything. I don’t know about everything, but if you haven’t had Chicken Fried Backstrap (from here on out I’m just going to type CFB), then you really are missing out. Everybit as wonderful as chicken fried steak, only more tender and with a slightly different flavor. If you ever get a chance to try some, I strongly urge you to take a bite. You’ll be happy you did.
backstrap, cut into steaks, butterflied out, hammered thin and tenderized
1/4 cup of milk
salt, pepper and season all (and any other spices you might like)
more milk for the gravy
If not already done, cut your backstrap into 1″ steaks and then butterfly out. Place the steaks between wax paper and using a meat mallet (or other heavy object) flatten the steaks. This is a great way to take out any stress or frustrations. If you have a Jaccard, I’d recommend using it at this point to make it even more tender, but it’s not needed.
Set up a simple breading station. Flour seasoned with salt, pepper, season all and anything else you might like in one bowl. Three eggs and 1/4 milk whisked together in another bowl.
Fill a cast iron skillet with peanut oil about an inch to an inch and a half and heat to 350.
Lightly coat the backstrap with flour, coat with the egg wash mixture, back into the flour and then into the skillet. Cook until golden brown on both sides. Do NOT overcrowd the skillet, work in batches. Once golden brown, remove from skillet (I like to place on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet to drain. Check the next picture to see what I mean) and lightly salt. At this point, the can be held in your oven on the lowest setting (mine is 170) until ready to serve.
From this point on, if you don’t know how to make gravy, my directions might not help much. This is Mrs. G’s job and she does it by feel after years of experience. Pour out the oil into a heat proof container keeping about 1/4 cup in the original skillet. Mix in flour and make a roux. While constantly stirring, add milk. Cook until you get the consistency you want, adding milk if it gets too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t know how to make a gravy and you don’t have your own version of Mrs. G around, I’m sure there are websites that will walk you through it.
As much as I love chicken fried steak, CFB is even better.
I’m not gonna argue with you about how to fill up the rest of your plate, but in my opinion it should be mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, some green beans and a few rolls. Unfortunately, I forgot the rolls, but still….heaven on a plate. Crispy, golden CFB smothered in gravy. So tender it doesn’t even need a knife to cut and just melts in your mouth. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. And the pride and sense of accomplishment of knowing that you killed the deer, processed it yourself and then cooked it some how makes it taste even better. Life doesn’t get much better.
Wow!! It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything! I do believe that’s the longest I’ve ever gone and I’m sorry for that. We’ve been going through some trying stuff (close family and friends will know what I’m talking about) and cooking just hasn’t been much on my mind lately. Not that we haven’t been cooking, but its been stuff like burgers or fajitas or stuff that wasn’t really blog worthy. Or stuff we’ve already done here. Been doing quite a bit more cooking inside, more than is normal for us. But we’re back!! And today we are bringing you these bundles of chicken with a crabmeat stuffing. And never fear…I’ve got about six cooks lined up that I am super excited about. So stay tuned and see what we’re cooking up.
We’ve been trying to clear out the freezer a bit lately. I came across these chicken thighs and I didn’t want to just throw them on the Egg with a bit of rub or sauce. No…I wanted to do something else. We’ve all seen stuffed chicken breasts….why not thighs? Dark meat has more flavor than white meat and is less likely to dry out. Sounds like a winner to me, so I started looking around for recipes, found one I liked and modified it a bit to fit our tastes.
Before we get started, if you can find boneless chicken thighs, do yourself a favor and buy them. Not that its hard to debone a thigh, it’s just a pain in the but. That’s what was in the freezer though, so that’s what I used. I’m keeping my eyes out for boneless from now on.
6 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup celery, diced fine
1/2 cup onion, diced fine
1 6oz can lump crabmeat, drained (if you can get fresh, go for it. Not kitchen tested as I couldn’t get any)
2 tbsp white wine (we used Pinot Grigio as that was what Mrs. G was drinking)
Add the vegetable oil and butter to a large skillet and over medium heat.
Add the celery and onion and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Sautee until soft, about five minutes.
Remove from heat and add poultry seasoning and pepper. Next, stir in crabmeat, bread cubes and wine. Allow to cool.
Preheat your grill to 400F. If using an Egg or other ceramic cooker, set it up for a direct cook with raised grates. For other charcoal or gas grills, you want a 2 zone cooking set up with flame on one side and none on the other. (This will allow you a safe area to move chicken in case of flare ups.)
Lay the chicken out skin side down and spread an even layer of the mixture over each one.
Now the tricky part….roll the chicken up and secure with toothpicks. We didn’t get any pictures of this as we had nasty chicken stuff all over our hands and didn’t want tot get it on the camera. You understand, don’t you and forgive us? I knew you would.
Once you’ve got them all rolled out, season the outside with your rub and place on the grill.
Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning every so often to ensure even cooking (I went about every 5 minutes)
Cook until chicken hits about 165F. Sure, that’s high for chicken breasts, but the thighs can take that kind of heat without drying out.
We’ve talked about wood and smoke before. Have you been paying attention? What kind of wood would pair well with chicken?
If you answered a light wood, possible a fruit wood such as apple or cherry, then you are correct! Give yourself 10 points. Not sure what you are going to do with them, but 10 points has to be better than none, right? Notice those two small pieces of chicken off to the side? Casualties of my poor deboning skills. I like to call them chef’s treats as I get to eat them while the chicken is cooking. 😉
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and loosely cover with foil for about 5 minutes to rest. This gives you some time to make a salad or some other side dish.
We kept it simple and just went with a wedge salad. We figured the bread crumbs in the stuffing already counted as carbs, so we didn’t need a potato or rice or couscous.
The chicken turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Juicy, with a nice flavor from the rub and just the right amount of smoke. The first bite gave you that familiar stuffing taste with the bread and onions and celery and poultry seasoning, but then you noticed it was just a bit different from Thanksgiving stuffing. I’d really like to say that the crab meat stole the show, but in all honesty…it was kind of lost with all the other players. It didn’t jump out and you and say, “Hey!! There’s crab in here!!” Maybe fresh crab would give it that extra UMPH. I don’t know.
I do know that it was fun writing a blog post again. Expect one again real soon. Like maybe tomorrow. Or Monday. And expect venison. 🙂