Rice and Tails

Crawfish jambalaya is a tasty option during crawfish season.

The crawfish possibilities are endless this time of year. In addition to boiled or fried crawfish, there's the mainstay étouffée, crawfish pies, gumbo, and stew. Jambalaya is a less traditional crawfish dish, but serves as a tasty option. Hearty and colorful, the rice mixture is perfect with salad and a vegetable as a main course or in a large quantity for a party.

Erin Landry takes advantage of crawfish season each year, cooking up an étouffée for her family of four. This year she decided to change things up and try crawfish jambalaya. "I was looking for something with crawfish, something that would be fairly easy and something that my whole family would eat," she says.

Fairly simple, the dish takes less than an hour to make and requires minimal prep time. Landry, a mother of two and business owner (she owns The Loan Store and Club Tan), used pre-packaged crawfish from the grocery store and store-bought chopped vegetables to speed up the process.

"First you have to sauté the vegetables in the butter, and you let it sauté with the crawfish fat for about 40 minutes. So probably the hardest part was getting the crawfish fat out of the package without the tails falling out," she says. Landry used a Magnalite pot and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper and Tony Chachere's in place of cayenne pepper. "Just let it sauté on low for 40 minutes, and add the crawfish to it after that," she continues. "Let it cook for another 10 minutes. You add the green onions and the rice after that and mix it up. It says to let it steam, so I just put the lid on the Magnalite and left it covered. The rice was already cooked. I cooked it while the vegetables were sautéing."

She added a bit more margarine at the end, and the jambalaya was ready to serve. The resulting taste is mildly spicy from the Tony Chachere's, and the red of the crawfish is complemented nicely with the green onions and a sprig of parsley.

"It's very, very easy," Landry says. "I'm sure I'll do it again."

Crawfish Jambalaya

1 pound peeled crawfish
4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoons crawfish fat
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1 stick oleo margarine
1 cup green onions
2 tablespoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper

Sauté bell pepper, garlic, onion (not green onions), and celery in the margarine in an iron pot. Add the crawfish fat, and season highly. Cook uncovered for 40 minutes over a low fire. Add the peeled crawfish tails, and cook another 10 minutes. Add the green onions and rice. Mix well, and steam for five minutes before serving.

(If it seems too dry, add more margarine.)

For more information on the Junior League of Lafayette's cookbooks, call 988-2739.