Spring in Laramie, Wyoming is fickle at best ~ and by the second snow in June it can seem downright elusive. This year, our first in Laramie, winter has seemed particularly dogged in it's cling to our thin air, but in the last 10 days, daytime warmth and the sudden greening of the plains seems to be announcing that summer has at last arrived.
This year we marked Summer twice. Our first attempt, a "Summer Barbecue" over Memorial day weekend was well attended and ended a great success, never mind the wintry chill and icy rain with which it was accompanied. Ultimately the event was hardly the warm outdoor picnic we had all hoped for.
No, it was going to be yet another 10 days, before we would really mark Summer properly. Naomi and I gathered some good friends, crossed our fingers and, took the folks at CajunGrocer.com up on an awesome offer, 10 pounds of live Crawfish shipped overnight and delivered to our doorstep.
Fiona, our 2 year old was beside herself with excitement about the arrival of the "bugs" and was equally delighted with the idea of eating them by the handful from the communal pile, she just needed some help shelling them, "More bug plas!"
We count ourselves lucky around here when we can get our hands on ingredients like Crawfish. Finding good fresh fish other than trout (which by the way is wonderful) in Wyoming is nearly impossible. Laramie is a very small town, and getting harder-to-find ingredients often means a long drive to Fort Colins or Denver Colorado, or even just forgoing them entirely. We usually end up driving to the Whole Foods in Fort Collins for special occasions that call for more than the locally available catfish, frozen farmed salmon and frozen farmed shrimp that makes up 90% of what is available in our local markets. So getting our hands on these live crawfish was a real treat.
I can't think of a better way of bringing in Summer than with a crawfish boil. The internet and companies like CajunGrocer.com have made it easier to get some wonderful and traditional American ingredients that we just couldn't get otherwise.
- 2 green peppers, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 2 medium sized sweet onions chopped
- 4 stalks celery chopped
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 pounds crawfish tail meat - with fat (live crawfish can be purchased from CajunGrocer.com
- 325 ML dry sack (spanish dry sherry)
- 1 cup water (you can use more or less to your preferred thickness)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon ground New Mexico Chile
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
- Start with a Roux - Add the oil and butter to a large sauce pan and place it over medium-low heat.
- When the oil is warm but not too hot (butter should be completely melted), start stirring in flour with the wooden spoon until the mixture is thick - about the texture of wet concrete or plaster of Paris. You can add more oil or flour until it's right.
- Stir continually with the wooden spoon over the heat so the roux cooks. The flour will gradually begin to brown. The roux can be used when the flour is light golden in color, but the darker you cook the roux, the more flavor it will add to the sauce. I usually take my roux to a chestnut color, don't cook it past a mahogany color, though.
- Stir in your garlic, onion and celery and salt and reduce your heat slightly so your Roux doesn't continue to cook - you can add a bit more olive oil if you find that the roux is sticking to the pan.
- When your onion and celery have begun to sweat, add the green and red peppers and continue to heat until all the vegetables have begun to soften.
- When the vegetables have all begun to soften, increase your heat to medium and add your crawfish, and the remaining spices, bay leaves, thyme, ground pepper, cayenne, and New Mexico chile powder.
- Stir all your ingredients together and cook, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes.
- Add the dry sack and water and stir evenly into the rest of the ingredients and stir well until roux is fully incorporated into the liquid.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding liquid as the sauce develops to your preferred thickness. After 20 minutes, remove from heat and serve.
- Serve over rice, or crumbled cornbread.