I threw an over-the-top crawfish boil for my fiance's birthday party last year. In my maternal need to feed the masses, I grossly overestimated the amount of food to serve. In hindsight, though, you can never really have to much leftover crawfish. I have my wonderful friends to thank for peeling and bagging every last critter. So I've been sitting on three pounds of New Orleans gold and just itching to find the perfect recipe to show it off. I thought about going the classic etouffée route, but in the end this rich, dreamy pasta won out. I don't make decadent sauces like this too often, but it only seemed fitting for this holiday of excess. Most versions I found online used the classic Cajun trinity, heavy cream, and an entire loaf of Velveeta cheese. I kept the aromatics true to form, used half & half instead, and added tomato paste and white wine to round out the flavors. I really loved this sauce (I mean, what's not to love?) and can't wait to try it out in other recipes. I think it would be equally good with shrimp, especially if you can't find crawfish, and even blackened chicken. It's definitely got plenty of room to wiggle.
Creamy Crawfish Pasta Serves 6 - 8 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 1 green bell pepper, diced small 1 onion, diced small 2 stalks celery, diced small 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 pound frozen cooked crawfish tails, thawed 1 cup half and half or heavy cream 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning Red pepper flakes, to taste Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 16 ounces penne pasta, cooked according to package directions Chopped parsley, for serving In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onions, and celery, and sauté until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the flour until the vegetables are well-coated and no white clumps remain. Stir in the tomato paste until completely combined. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and crawfish to the Dutch oven; let the wine simmer out for a couple of minutes. Pour in the heavy cream. Add the creole seasoning, a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper. Cook the sauce at a gentle boil until it is thickened and coats the back of the spoon, about 5 - 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste. Fold the cooked penne into the crawfish sauce. Stir in a handful of chopped parsley. Serve the crawfish pasta with additional red pepper flakes, hot sauce, freshly grated Parmesan, and slices of toasted garlic bread.
Related: Recipe: Mardi Gras Milk Punch (Images: Nealey Dozier)