June 26, 2017 – Since I hold dual citizenship (born Louisianian, raised Alaskan), I have had the advantage of enjoying some of the best the food world has to offer.
It’s hard to beat fresh king crab and wild-caught Alaska salmon. Both are at their best when prepared simply. Butter. Maybe a little lemon juice on the salmon.
Louisiana’s shrimp, oysters and crawfish are delicious by themselves or in a variety of traditional dishes. They’re amazingly versatile. As for oysters, it’s not even necessary to cook them. Just shuck’em, dip them in a little seafood sauce with a healthy infusion of horseradish, and go to it. A cold beer on the side doesn’t hurt.
It wasn’t that long ago that crawfish were a wild-caught crop in the Atchafalaya River basin in South Louisiana. At the same time, Louisiana was full of rice farmers with their well-maintained pools of water. Crawfish figured out that the rice paddies offered safe homes with a built in food supply. Farmers noticed an increasing number of crawfish in the rice.
Now add increasing foreign competition for the rice market and smart farmers began to consider crawfish in a different light. The little, freshwater cousins to the lobster have a brief shelf life. To accommodate customers hosting crawfish boils, they have to be sold live, usually in 40 pound bags kept as damp as possible. I used to host the only Mardi Gras party in Anchorage. Each year a dealer in New Orleans would ship a bag or two overnight. They would arrive still waving their small claws in the wet, burlap bags.
If not sold live, they should be shelled, the tails cooked and frozen as close to the source as possible. Like the pound of the little fellows I had in the freezer that I really wanted to taste.
There are so many wonderful ways to use crawfish. Crawfish pie, etouffee, gumbo. I’ve eaten and made them all. I wanted something new. How about a crawfish quiche? Sounded good to me.
First, a few confessions.
I risked heresy by making a variation of the Trinity (onion, green pepper, celery). I sautéed green onions, celery, and mushrooms in a mixture of butter and olive oil. When they had softened and begun to brown, I added some roasted red pepper and the crawfish just long enough to let them heat through.
The second confession, and I really hate this one.
I didn’t make the pie shell. I’m not bragging when I say I make great pie crust. I’m ashamed to say I was just plain lazy this time. I used a store-bought pie shell. Even worse, two of them.
And I won’t ever do it again.
The good news is the quiche was just terrific. The store-bought pie crust wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. It just was.
(Makes two nine inch quiche)
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 green onions, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1 pound crawfish tails
6 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese plus more for topping (mozzarella would work as well)
2 9 inch pie shells
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter and heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet.
Saute’ the green onions, celery, and mushrooms until they soften and begin to brown. Add the roasted red pepper and crawfish. Mix well with the onions, celery, and mushrooms. Let the pepper and crawfish heat through. Remove them from the heat
In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly. Add the cream and one cup of grated cheese. Stir to mix.
Fold the crawfish mixture into the wet ingredients.
Pour the newly prepared filling equally into the pie shells.
Top with the remaining grated cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted carefully in the center comes out clean.