Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Crawfish Bisque

I love crawfish season. It announces the arrival of Spring, right along with the tulips and daffodils.  My favorite way to enjoy these little mudbugs is a big ol' crawfish boil complete with new potatoes and corn on the cob all thrown out on a newspaper covered table and served up with ice cold beer.

There are so many other ways to eat crawfish; crawfish étouffée, crawfish pie, gumbo, and this crawfish bisque that was printed in the April 2016 issue of Southern Living. A bisque is a soup with French origins and is traditionally made with the strained broth of crustaceans and pureéd crustaceans.

When making recipes that call for crawfish tails it's much more time efficient to buy the crawfish tails frozen.  If you did want to take the time to get the tails from fresh crawfish, you could also make your own seafood stock with the shells. Umm, no.

For me and this recipe I am using frozen tails and canned seafood stock.  You'll need a pound of tails but packages available were only 12 ounces each so I had to purchase two and had 24 ounces.  That allowed me to have twice the tail meat to add to the bisque after it was pureéd.

Here's what I'll be working with.  I failed to include the flour and the sherry in this photo.

The first thing I like to do is all of the prep work; measuring out the ingredients, chopping, etc., etc.  That way I have everything ready to go when it's time to use them in the cooking process.

To get started you need to make a roux.

 It takes a good 10 minutes but you want to bring it to a nice light brown color.

 Add all of your vegetables and the spices.

After cooking the vegetable for 5 minutes the stock, herbs, and half of the sherry are added and brought to a boil.  This will cook for 10 minutes then a half pound of the crawfish are dropped in and cooked for about 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Fish out the bay leaves and the thyme stems. Pureé in batches until very smooth.  A caution when blending ingredients that are hot....place a kitchen towel on top of the lid and hold down firmly.

Return the bisque to the pot and add the cream, lemon juice, hot sauce and the remaining crawfish; which in my case was a pound instead of a half pound...yum.

If you wish, you can garnish with a crouton and snipped chives.  This bisque was a B-I-G success at the dinner table.  It was rich and flavorful and I am really pleased that I had an extra half pound of tails to add to the bisque.

I believe Lovey will be requesting this for future meals.

Crawfish Bisque
Adapted from the April 2016 issue of Southern Living
Serves 6

6 Tbsp. (3 ounces) salted butter
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, small diced
1 red bell pepper, small diced
2 celery stalks, small diced
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 medium tomato, small diced
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups seafood stock
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup dry sherry, divided
1-1/2 pounds frozen peeled crawfish tails, divided
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped chives (optional)
croutons or oyster crackers (optional)

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until combined. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring constantly, until roux is a pale brown, about 10 minutes.

Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, tomato, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high.  Whisk in stock, thyme, bay leaves, and 1/2 cup of the sherry and cook 10 minutes. Add 1/2 pound of the crawfish tails, and cook 2 minutes.

In batches, transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Return the pureé to the pot, and place over medium-low heat. Stir in cream, lemon juice, hot sauce the remaining crawfish and the remaining 1/4 cup sherry.  Bring to a low simmer, and cook until heated, about 5 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls and if desired, garnish with croutons and snipped chives.         

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