Jambalay’, crawfish pie, filet gumbo

Although born in Touro Infirmary, my parents and I left New Orleans before I began eating solid food.  My mom made sure my sisters and I developed a taste for her seafood gumbo, but there are many classic Cajun dishes I’ve never tried–and crawfish pie is one of them.  I’m one to associate “pie” with apples, pecans, spiced pumpkin, and towering meringue, so the idea of pairing a crimped crust with shellfish kinda creeped me out.  When your Granny forgoes an afternoon of reading in her recliner to cook for you, however, you try the crawfish pie.

And you like it!  Spicy, full of vegetables, and perfectly nutritious for this pescetarian.  I’ve pasted beloved NOLA chef John Besh’s recipe below (still working on getting my Granny’s version).

Simon demands a big slice of his great-Granny's spicy crawfish pie.

Simon demands a big slice of his great-Granny’s spicy crawfish pie.

Belle River Crawfish Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup Basic Shellfish Stock
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound peeled crawfish tails
  • 2 dashes Tabasco
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire
  • 1 recipe Basic Pie Doughor one 9-inch prepared pie shell

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 325. Make a roux by melting 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Stir in the flour until it is incorporated. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the roux is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Then add the onions and cook for a few minutes more until the roux becomes golden brown.
2. Add the bell pepper, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 10 minutes more.
3. Stirring constantly, slowly add the Shellfish Stock and cream to the skillet. Raise the heat to moderate and simmer the sauce until it is reduced by half. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the crawfish, Tabasco, and Worcestershire and stir to combine. Set the filling aside; discard the bay leaf.
4. Liberally coat each of 6 individual 3-4 inch tart pans with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then dust with flour.
5. Roll the dough out on a floured surface to a thickness of ¼ inch. Cut into 6 individual circles, each a bit larger than the tart pan. Gently fit the dough circles into the prepared tart pans.
6. Place the tart pans (or the 9-inch shell) on a cookie sheet and fill with the crawfish mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until the pie shells are golden brown.

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