Crazy Cajun Crawfish Boiling 101

The best boils start with live, healthy, clean crawfish from Crazy Cajun! If you’re buying from someone else, you're going to have to take extra steps to ensure a good boil. Listen up newbies:

STEP 1: ORDER YOUR BAGS. Whether you buy from us or someone else, you should reserve the number of bags of crawfish you want early the week of the boil. Crawfish is in demand during season and this guarantees you get a pick! If you've never boiled before, each bag is 33 lbs on average and you will need about 2 lbs per person if your group consists of small eaters or 5 lbs per person if they are big eaters. Some people will eat less, some people will eat more, but it evens out.

STEP 2: GATHER YOUR GEAR. At the very least you’re going to need an outdoor burner and propane tank, at least a 40 quart pot with a strainer basket, enough large coolers for the amount of crawfish you are ordering and a small boat paddle. You can pick most of this stuff up at Academy. Residentially, we use an 80 quart pot to cut down the number of boils it takes to get through a bag, but it's your preference. The math works out like this: For a 33 lb bag of crawfish with the fixin's you will need to do about 4 boils in a 40 quart pot or 2 boils in an 80 quart pot. You can figure it out from there. In addition, you'll want to start saving your newspapers or pick up a roll of disposable plastic tablecloth to line the tables. It's cleanest to cover the picnic tables with the plastic tablecloth, dump the whole boil on there at once and let people eat. Once the table has been mostly eaten and the next batch is ready, pull out the uneaten ones, roll up the tablecloth shells and all, throw it away and re-line the table. This may seem like a no-brainer but crawfish are messy - you are going to want to eat them outside. For a true New Orleans style party get some Crawfish Soap from Crazy Cajun to keep your guests' hands from smelling like fish all day, gather your Mardi Gras beads, put on some Zydeco music, get some crawfish trays so people can spread out… use your imagination!

STEP 3: WHAT ELSE YOU PUTTIN' IN THE POT? You can cook just about anything you want in there with your crawfish, but some of the Cajun favorites include Boudin sausage (available at Fiesta, or just about any sausage for that matter), shrimp, corn, red potatoes, whole garlic cloves with the tips cut off (my favorite), onions, mushrooms and lemon for flavor. You will also need seasoning. Crazy Cajun recommends crab boil seasoning (1½ bags in the first pot, then ½ bag in each additional for 80 quart pots), plus approximately 1 tbsp of Cajun concentrate per pot. For the most part you can also pick this stuff up at Academy. Some of the other dishes we serve at boils include fresh French bread, dirty rice, beignets and bread pudding. Some people also like to put out dipping sauces including a ketchup/mayonnaise mix, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce and/or melted butter. BTW - If you want a great bread pudding recipe, click here.

THE DAY IS HERE! TIME TO PREP. Pick up your crawfish as close to the boil as possible. Crazy Cajun brings our crawfish in on Saturday morning, fresh from the farm and less than 24 hours out of the purging tank. We keep them on ice until delivery so they are delivered in a dormant state. If you bought from us and are boiling as soon as you get to the party, then you may not need the cooler, but if you didn’t you’re going to have to purge (see the next step) and regardless if you aren’t cooking right away, then it’s best to empty the bags into clean coolers. Set up your tables, pull out your boiling gear, grab a radio and an ice cold beer and head outside. Again, no brainer, but it is NEVER safe to boil inside.

EXTRA STEP IF YOU BOUGHT FROM SOMEONE ELSE: Be sure to purge your crawfish before cooking. Crazy Cajun farms purge all their crawfish in a 250,000 gallon, aerated, fresh water tank for 24 hours. If you didn’t buy from us you aren’t going to have that luxury, so you will have to rely on a garden hose, large bucket/garbage can/baby pool and a paddle. Dump the crawfish into your choice of container and fill with water. Let the crawfish soak for around 10 minutes using the paddle to stir. Drain the water and repeat until the water doesn’t turn brown. Finally, once you are done purging, put the clean crawfish in the coolers and do one final hose down in the cooler with the drain open so the water doesn’t pool. The use of salt to purge is a myth – pouring salt on them does not cause them to “throw up” or “poop” and actually kills the crawfish.

SECOND EXTRA STEP IF YOU BOUGHT FROM SOMEONE ELSE: Either while purging, or after, carefully examine your crawfish for dead ones as there may be quite a few. You should never eat crawfish that have been boiled AFTER they were already dead. Pull out all the dead ones that you see and throw them away. Tell your guests NOT to eat the dead ones – they will know which ones were dead before they hit the water by the curl of the tail. If the tail is not curled tightly – DON’T EAT IT!

GET THE WATER READY. Depending on how big your pot is and how good your burner is (use a jet burner if you can), this could take 30 minutes or a couple of hours, so start early, before purging IF you have to do that. Fill the pot about ½ to ¾ full and start the water heating. Add your seasoning to the water: 1 ½ bags crab boil for the first boil + 1 tbsp of concentrate, ½ bag crab boil + 1 tbsp concentrate for the remaining boils. Bring the water to a roaring boil. NOTE: If you are adding potatoes, leave the basket in the pot and put them in now, allowing them to cook at a full boil for a least 10 minutes before adding the crawfish.

TIME TO COOK! Pull your basket out and fill it with crawfish. Submerge the whole basket in the boiling water using the paddle to push down any stragglers. At this point you can add your other fixins with the exception of the corn. Then cover and let ‘em boil. You should only need to cook them at a full boil for about 5-10 minutes (You’ll know when their ready if the shells are a bright red color), then shut off the burner, add your corn, and let ‘em soak for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

TIME TO EAT! Once the ‘bugs are ready you can string the paddle through the basket handle to lift them out and take the basket directly to the table where you spread out the crawfish and send in the troops!

Congratulations on your first boil! For tips on how to peel, which bugs to look for and which ones to avoid, watch the video below that we borrowed from YouTube.

For lots of great gear to make your boil stand out, check out our boil gear!

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