First things first: Happy Birthday, Taras! And welcome to the 30 club!
So... I wanted to do something a little different (and special) for Taras's 30th birthday, and decided that a crawfish boil with the family would be the way to go. Here's a rundown of what we did, in case you're interested in hosting a boil of your own. This is what we did for a 10 person boil:
We ordered the crawfish online from Louisiana Crawfish Co. The website is easy to use and they tell you how many people will be fed with the number of pounds you're ordering. We went ahead and bought the package deal that includes seasoning, and we really enjoyed their seasoning flavor and spice level. I loved that the price includes next day shipping! The crawfish arrive alive, inside a styrofoam cooler. It took maybe an hour and a half to clean the 15 pounds that we ordered - I probably spent a lot more time on this than I needed to, but no one had any gritty crawfish!
I'm convinced that boils are the easiest way to entertain! It took all of 20 minutes to chop up the sides that we included in the boil: two pounds of andouille sausage, eight ears of corn (cut into thirds), a few onions, a few lemons, and about four pounds of red potatoes. We ordered less than the recommended amount of crawfish for the size of our party, so we also threw in four pounds of shrimp.
The weather was not really on our side... I think it got down to 40-something degrees on Friday night, plus it was raining (oh, May in New England!). So we brought the outdoors in and set up picnic-style in Taras's parent's kitchen. At each table we put a roll of paper towels (and we had wet wipes for when everyone was finished), a bowl of lemons, a bowl of cocktail sauce, bowls for trash, old bay seasoning, and pitchers of water (the boil was spicy!).
We've decided that we'll eventually get a legit boil set-up for the outdoors, but we managed just fine on the stove-top by using multiple stock pots. We used five pots in total to cook all 15 pounds of crawfish and the sides. We filled the pots halfway with water, then allocated the seasoning and lemons to each pot. Once the water + seasoning came to a boil, we added the onions, potatoes, and corn and let that boil for 10 minutes. Next, we threw in the shrimp, and as soon as it re-boiled (about 30 seconds) we filled up the pot with crawfish. Once boiling, we left the heat on for three minutes, then turned the heat off and let it all soak in the pot (that's how the flavor gets into the crawfish). You can soak for a little as 20 minutes, but we enjoyed the flavor and juiciness of the crawfish better when they soaked for about an hour. Also, by the end, the shrimp were a bit too soggy - so we'll have to figure out how to fix that next time.
Taras showed everyone how to eat the crawfish, then we all dug in. Everyone used their hands and got really messy - so much fun!
Lastly, get your husband a mixed berry birthday pie!
Here are some of the resources we found helpful for throwing together this party:
- Alton Brown's Crawfish Boil recipe (just for the cooks times, since we ordered the seasoning)
- Hither and Tither's blog post, as general inspiration
- Crawfish boil video - there are a ton of videos on youtube but we found this one hilarious and helpful