Crawfish boils are such a fantastic spring/summer pastime in the south. During my first few years in the north, I would make sure to get my fill of crawfish when I came back to visit Mississippi. However, I really wanted to share the fun experience with my northern friends and family. I was super pumped when I did a little research to find that there are companies who ship live crawfish for an overnight delivery. I have ordered from Louisiana Crawfish Company a few times now, and they have been great to work with!
Crawfish season can vary each year depending on precipitation and the region that they come from. Some seasons can start as early as November and some may run all the way into August, but it is generally safe to say the season is from February through June. The season in Louisiana tends to run a bit longer than other southern states. Just make sure to place your order a few weeks in advance to guarantee enough for your party!
Estimating how much crawfish to order for a boil can be dependent on your company. if shelling crawfish is second nature to your party group, you'll want to plan 3 - 5 pounds of crawfish per person. If they are new to the concept, you can get away with 1 - 3 pounds per person, just because it will take newbies a bit more time to get the knack of shelling.
Southern Style Crawfish Boil
- Outdoor cook stand with gas tank*
- Large metal vat (with handled metal basket preferred)*
- Something large enough to stir with*
- Hard plastic kiddie pool or something to contain the live, washed crawfish
- A bucket, cooler, or surface to dump the cooked crawfish
- Live crawfish
- Small redskin or yellow potatoes
- Corn (on the cob, fresh or frozen)
- Andouille sausage (cut into 1 - 2 inch pieces, halved)
- Crab boil seasoning bags (regular and/or extra spicy)
*The cooking set up I have is a King Kooker set and it is very handy. However, I have also boiled crawfish in a large pot and scooped them out with a metal scooper. To stir, I have a large metal paddle.
If you want to make your own seasoning bags, they are just made up of black peppercorn, red pepper flake, mustard seed, bay leaves, coriander seed, dill seed, and allspice. These can be gathered and secured in a cheese cloth. Or you can buy the packaged version, as they can be less pricey than buying containers of the spices if you don't already have them handy.
When I visit Mississippi, we can get live crawfish at Walmart. They carry bags of live ones in their meat department, and you can reserve a bag from their weekly shipments during the summer. If you do not live in a southern region, Louisiana Crawfish Company does a great job shipping overnight. Just follow the care instructions on the box when they arrive.
I dump the crawfish out onto a tarp and separate any dead ones before putting the live ones back into the box. Make sure to wear garden gloves when handling them because they will pinch you! You can flush them a few times with water to clean them. I dump them (gently) onto the tarp to drain the dirty water, then use the tarp to pour back into the box for another water refill. Repeat until the water is clear. I then transfer them to a kiddie pool with some ice and place in the shade or a cool location. Just make sure to time this according to when you start cooking the batches because they will begin to parish if left too long.
Bring the vat of water to a boil and add a couple of seasoning bags, salt, and a few slices of lemon. You can be the judge on the salt, as some people prefer them saltier than others. I usually stay on the lighter side for the first batch and add more on the next batch if needed. Let this boil for about 15 minutes before adding some garlic cloves (a handful), some potatoes, corn, and sausage. Cook for 15 minutes and then add a batch of the crawfish. Bring to a boil again and cook for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, cover and remove from the flame. I put down a few disassembled cardboard boxes in my yard to avoid burning the grass. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes to soak up the yummy boil juices. They will start to sink in the pot when they are ready. If you have a cooker with a straining insert, remove the basket and let the liquid drain back into the vat before dumping the batch contents into a serving vessel or onto a table. In the south, they are usually dumped onto a wooden table structure or a folding table with a plastic tablecloth. Just make sure this is set up in the yard because it can get messy.
Repeat the cooking process in batches until you have cooked all of the crawfish. Save the shells too because they make amazing stock!
Happy crawfish eatin'!