Crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mud bugs… Crayfish go by many names. Many have compared them to shrimp, but they’re really more like tiny freshwater lobsters. You eat the tails, and the more adventurous among us suck on the heads and claws. They’re considered pretty mild, though, and generally take on the flavor that you give them. It’s why it’s hard to say exactly how they taste. In one dish they could be spicy, in another they could be buttery.
It’s such a huge, huge part of southern culture that we have entire events devoted to the things. And you’ll find nary a southerner that hasn’t been to or hosted a crayfish boil at some point in their life.
Crayfish season is typically between March and June, but lucky for us, you can often find both fresh and frozen crayfish tails year round.
Today’s recipe is a play on a Cajun pasta Kevin and I enjoy (called New Orleans pasta) that is a tasty mix of cheese, Cajun seasonings, chicken and Andouille sausage. Pasta is great, but so overdone. I mean, give me ten seconds on Pinterest and I can find 12 different versions of Cajun pasta.
I had a thought. What if I tried risotto? I mean, it’s similar enough. And soupy rice with a bit of spice, crayfish and sausage just screams southern comfort food. Spoiler alert: that’s totally true.
This dish hits so many different notes of flavor, it’s impossible to name them all. (Make this dish and you’ll see!) It’s a blend of creamy, tangy Parmesan with Cajun spices, and taken to another level with a splash of Chardonnay and the deep flavor of truffle infused crayfish.
Pair this dish with a simple salad and a glass of Chardonnay (why waste the bottle if it’s already open?) and you’ll have a delicious, well-rounded meal on the table in about 30 minutes.
Let me know what you think!
Until next time. X
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Cajun Risotto with Crayfish
A creamy, spicy risotto with hints of complex flavor like white wine and truffle oil, then topped with southern favorites: crayfish and andouille sausage.
- 2 TB unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 c. arborio rice
- 1/2 c. dry white wine, like Chardonnay
- 3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 TB cajun seasoning, like Slap Ya Mama
- 3/4 c. parmesan cheese
- 3 TB truffle oil or olive oil
- 10 oz. (about 1 1/2 c.) crayfish tails, fresh or thawed from frozen
- 7 oz. andouille sausage, cut in slices on the diagonal
- pinch of cajun seasoning
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute for about a minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown. Pour in the rice and stir to coat.
- Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. When the rice has mostly absorbed the liquid, add 1 c. of the broth. Continue stirring and add more broth once it has been mostly absorbed. Do this again 1 c. at a time until the broth runs out.
- Stir in the Cajun seasoning and Parmesan cheese until melted and fully incorporated. Turn heat down to low.
- In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the sausage and let sizzle for about 2 minutes, then add the crayfish tails and stir. Sprinkle a pinch of the Cajun seasoning over the crayfish.
- Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the crayfish begin to curl and the sausage is heated and cooked through.
- Serve the risotto warm, topped with the crayfish and sausage and a drizzle of the oil.
Pay attention to the amount of salt in your Cajun seasoning. If it is high in sodium, consider using a low sodium broth and add salt at the very end to taste.
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