Thursday, April 16, 2009

Crawfish Bisque

Diane and Carolyn in kitchen

Audrey "Toots" peeling crawfish and saving the fat.
Jamie and Will stuffing heads

Carolyn and Diane stuffing heads

Stuffing heads

Tray of stuffed crawfish heads

Butter Roux

Crawfish Bisque w/ stuffed heads

Making and eating crawfish bisque, when I was growing up, has always been a special event for our family. Because of the work involved in preparing and stuffing the heads, eating crawfish bisque was reserved for restaurants. When I was growing up there were plenty of restaurants that served great crawfish bisque. Today due to the inability to buy crawfish fat and heads some restaurants have taken this traditional dish off of the menu or have eliminated the stuffed heads.

During Holy Week, the peek of the crawfish season, I decided that I would get the family together and cook crawfish. My grandson Will, on his way to visit with us in Grand Isle for the week and knowing that we were cooking crawfish, asked his mother a question that really made me feel bad. He asked Jamie, "Mom what is crawfish bisque?" When Jamie told me that I was ashamed I had not cooked this traditional crawfish favorite for him.

I knew this week would be the perfect time to make crawfish bisque. Diane's mother, Audrey and sister, Carolyn were going to be here. With the children and grandchildren also here it would be a perfect time to make an old fashioned crawfish bisque and everyone could help.

We started early Friday morning, first boiling and peeling the crawfish. We cleaned heads and saved the fat buried deep in the head. Without that fat our bisque would not have tasted like we all remembered it. We spent all day, making roux, chopping vegetables, cooking the bisque, preparing stuffing and cleaning and stuffing the crawfish heads. We were six people working on this family meal. This was a real labor of love, after all we were cooking for the family and we would be serving at least 14 of them that night.

After supper was served and everyone said that this was the best crawfish bisque they had ever eaten (our last bisque is always the best) we realized why Will had never eaten bisque. To make great crawfish bisque takes much labor and time but all of us vowed to at least cook one large bisque a year and to make it a family event.


DK Crawford said...

As I've never made this and it's a favorite of mine, any chance of posting the recipe? Does Don's in Lafayette still serve it? They always had the stuffed head.
And one more thing. How do you clean the heads and reserve the fat?
THANKS! Love you guys and all your food stories. Are you going to Festival International?

Jim Gossen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Gossen said...

DK, I did not write a recipe for this bisque. We had several people working on it but wish I had. I know we used 5 pounds of crawfish tails for the stuffing in the heads and 5 pounds in the bisque. I made a butter roux and used onions,celery, bell pepper and garlic. Two cans of fire roasted tomatoes and crawfish stock for the gravy and cooked it for 6 hours. I added crawfish puree that I get from T seafood in St. Martinsville. This is my secrete ingredient. Puree is cooked crawfish that is run through a machine that extrudes everything, meat,fat and juices and separates the shells. I used about 4 pounds of this which really gave the bisque a strong crawfish flavor.

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