Cook this: The sailors’ N’awlins crawfish boil from The Great Shellfish Cookbook

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Our cookbook of the week is The Great Shellfish Cookbook by Toronto-based chef Matt Dean Pettit. Over the next four days, we’ll feature recipes from the book and an interview with its author.

To try another recipe from the book, check out: grilled shrimp and pineapple skewers; and lobster and shrimp ceviche.

Everything goes into one very large pot for this New Orleans-inspired crawfish boil. “It leaves you more time for friends, family and an outdoor barbecue or outdoor fun,” Matt Dean Pettit says.

In true N’awlins style, he recommends serving the dish spread out on a long, newspaper-covered outdoor table.

“Huge, beautiful, steamed crayfish and shellfish right on the table. You know what you do? You have a cold beer, a glass of wine or whatever it might be and everybody just goes with their hands,” Pettit says. “It’s social dining. And you wear some bibs and it’s informal, which is great.”

Some grocery stores and fishmongers across the country stock frozen crawfish imported from Louisiana but if you can’t locate them, Pettit recommends substituting sustainable shrimp or crab (snow, king or B.C. Dungeness).

The Great Shellfish Cookbook by Matt Dean Pettit

“I’m about comfort food. I’m about making things simple,” Matt Dean Pettit says of the more than 100 recipes in The Great Shellfish Cookbook.

Appetite by Random House


Serves: 4-6

3/4 cup (185 mL) seafood seasoning (e.g. Old Bay Seasoning), divided
4 medium lemons, halved
2 lb (900 g) red potatoes, quartered
2 lb (900 g) spicy sausage, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) rounds
6 ears of corn, cut in half
10 lb (4.5 kg) live or frozen (thawed) crawfish (see note)
2 cups (500 mL) unsalted butter, melted

In a very large stockpot, bring 10 1/2 quarts (10 L) of cold water to a boil over high heat. Add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the seafood seasoning, the lemon halves, and the potato quarters. Bring the water back up to a boil and then cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened slightly. Add the sausages and corn. Cook for 10 more minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Drain off the water, and allow the seafood to cool for 3 to 5 minutes, until cool enough to handle.

In the meantime, set up your serving table with a plastic tablecloth and plenty of newspapers. Pour the seafood right on the table. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) of seafood seasoning overtop.

Break out the napkins and cold beer, and dip the pieces into the melted butter. Don’t worry about getting your hands dirty; it’s all part of the fun!

Note: If you buy live crawfish, you’ll need to purge them. Dump the live crawfish into a large cooler or stockpot. Empty one large box of kosher salt over the crawfish, and then add enough cold water to cover them all. Using a large spoon, stir well and allow the salt to clean out any mud or dirt. Let them soak for about 5 minutes and then drain off the water. The crawfish are now ready to cook. Remember to discard any dead or unmoving crawfish prior to cooking!

If you can’t find crawfish, Pettit recommends using crab (snow, king or B.C. Dungeness) or sustainable shrimp.

Excerpted from The Great Shellfish Cookbook by Matt Dean Pettit. Copyright © 2018 Matt Dean Pettit. Photography copyright © 2018 Ksenija Hotic. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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