Friday, March 12, 2010

Crawfish Monica Copycat

Spicy crawfish in a rich and creamy butter and cream sauce, doused generously with Cajun seasoning, and tossed with rotini pasta.
Spicy crawfish in a rich and creamy butter and cream sauce, doused generously with Cajun seasoning, and tossed with rotini pasta.

Crawfish Monica

This is my copycat recipe for Crawfish Monica, a spicy, rich and creamy crawfish and pasta dish, extremely popular and once found only at a booth at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival - a long running music event held in New Orleans. With two stages of soul-stirring music, from jazz, to gospel, to Cajun and zydeco, rock, funk, blues, Caribbean and so much more, and more southern, Cajun, Creole and international foods than you can shake a baton at y'all.  If you've never been, you really should put it on your bucket list for sure. Check it out here.

Crawfish Monica created by Chef Pierre Hilzim, and named after his wife, Monica Davidson, was once only available on the Jazz Fest grounds during the two (extended) weekend festival. Now the original can be purchased at my favorite grocery store, Rouse's Market, here in Mississippi as well as over in Louisiana, along with several other stores around the state of Louisiana. Crawfish Monica now also has two other sister dishes now - Monica’s Herbed Shrimp Alfredo & Pasta and Monica’s Sauce with Chicken, Andouille, Tasso & Pasta! Delish.  Don't fret if it hasn't made it's way near you.  Just visit the Kajun Kettle Foods website for some fun Crawfish Monica trivia, or to order some for your next party, or make a pretty darned good substitute with this recipe.

I personally think there are 3 secrets to making this dish the best.  FIRST: Use freshly boiled crawfish whenever possible, or else use packaged Louisiana crawfish. Do not use foreign imported crawfish period, because, in my opinion they are inferior to local crawfish, they taste horrible and not worthy of this dish.  If you have no choice but to use imports, rinse them well, and I mean well, before adding them.

SECOND: Use loads of garlic - I use about 5 cloves here, but some recipes call for as much as 10 cloves!

AND LAST: Add as much heat with the Cajun seasoning as you think you can handle.  This pasta dish can actually take a bit more than you'd expect - I used a tablespoon here, but I've seen other recipes that use 2 tablespoons. My advice on that is, just take care not to overdo it - there is nothing worse than a dish that has far too much cayenne in it so that you can't taste anything but your tongue on fire from the red pepper!  Start slow, add 1/2 teaspoon, taste, add a little more, taste, add and taste, until it tastes right. Then when it's all combined in the end, taste again and adjust as needed.  

Crawfish Monica is traditionally made with rotini pasta, but you could substitute another pasta if you like.  In my ongoing effort to Clear the Pantry and "use it up" I used the bottom 1/2 pound of a tri-color rotini pasta and the bottom 1/2 pound of a Barilla Plus rotini left in my pantry. I also used frozen Louisiana crawfish from my freezer. Look for the "Certified Cajun" stamp.

Shrimp, crabmeat and even oysters may also be substituted, if you don't happen to be a fan of crawfish.

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Recipe: Crawfish Monica Copycat

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 45 min

Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound of dry rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup (a stick) of butter
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 5 medium cloves of garlic, finely minced, or to taste
  • 2 cups of half and half
  • 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1 pound of fresh, cooked or frozen Louisiana crawfish tails, undrained
  • Sprinkle of parsley, optional
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Rinse and drain well; set aside.

Melt the butter and sauté the garlic for about 2 minutes; add the sliced green onion and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the half and half and the Cajun seasoning, starting with 1/2 teaspoon, taste and continue adding and taste, to reach desired level. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, add the crawfish and cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until nicely thickened and heated through. Stir in the pasta and parsley, taste, add salt, pepper and additional Cajun seasoning as needed.

Serve immediately, or can hold over very low heat another 10 minutes, if necessary, stirring occasionally. Serve with hot French bread.

Frozen Crawfish Tip: To freshen the taste of frozen crawfish Cassie, one of our readers at the Facebook page shared this tip. Add between 1 and 3 tablespoons of liquid crab boil and enough ice cold water to cover the seafood. Let it soak in the fridge for about an hour. Keep in mind you will need to use much less Cajun seasoning after soaking the seafood, so taste the sauce, then add and adjust seasonings.

Variation: May substitute crab or peeled and de-veined shrimp for the crawfish.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on March 12, 2010
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  1. Mary you send enter this in the Presto Pasta thing. This looks fabulous! Believe or not, I've never eaten crawfish, poor me! I'm going to make it a point to buy some (from Louisiana of course) and try this dish!

  2. Wow! That looks amazing! I have some frozen crawfish tails that I have been needing a recipe for! : )

  3. OOOOHHH this looks GOOD! I'm gonig to see if my husband thinks his slight shellfish allergy could handle a little of this...if not, it will be an awful shame that he'll have to see it when I make it anyways. :)

  4. a very great recipe - one that I have thought about many times ... thanks for posting it

  5. I don't think I can get crawfish around here...foreign or otherwise!

  6. Makes me wish I could actually eat seafood!

  7. If you can't get fresh Louisiana crawfish, don't buy packed stuff, just use shrimp. whatever local crustacean is available will probably give a better result than anything that has been frozen.

  8. I am so making this recipe! We have pounds of frozen crawfish from Baby Cakes' b-day party calling my name after finding this. Yum-E.

    Don't worry, you taught me to give credit where credit is due. I'll let you know when I post it. XOXO.

  9. So my wife made this last night. I had to refrain from finishing off the pot. Now I'm glad I didn't. Looking forward to leftovers today.

  10. So my wife made this last night and I had to refrain from finishing off the whole pot. Now I am glad that I didn't since we'll be having a great leftover dinner today. Thanks.

  11. I know exactly what you mean - it is a bit addictive!

  12. Finally made this tonight and it was so good! 3 out of 4 us loved it and the other one doesn't like anything I have made lately so he doesn't really count. ;-P I appreciate the tip for soaking the crawfish in seasoning. I did it with small shrimp and it did help with the flavor!

  13. I used 1 can of fat free evaporated milk instead of half and half. Turned out great.

  14. Thanks for coming back to post that you tried this Suzanne - so glad y'all enjoyed the Crawfish Monica!

  15. Yummy yummy yummy!! Had to use frozen crawfish (from LA though) and I threw in a pound of shrimp (had lots of kids to feed) and it was awesome! I am a huge fan of garlic so I used a whole bulb and a little extra onion, fresh parsely instead of dried. I along with the kids really enjoyed it, extra easy to make, if you can boil water, you can make this! Thanky ou for sharing with us!

    1. You're welcome Heather! It's a favorite here & I'm so happy to hear that it was well received. Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and let me know!

  16. I made this once and now its a meal for every lent season. I really enjoyed this recipe. Very simply and easy. Thank u so much.

    1. Thank you Marie - I really appreciate hearing that it has become a family favorite!

  17. Thank you Mary for this go to recipe. As a true South La girl, I have a Crawfish Monica recipe which is excellent but can be ingredient greedy. Wanted something easy and quick and already in my pantry/fridge ...this was perfect!

    1. Fantastic! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it.

  18. My husband made this last night and there were hardly any leftovers. It was soooo good!!! I asked him to make more with shrimp tonight because we ate all the crawfish :/

    1. I'm so glad y'all enjoyed it - wish my husband would make some for me!!

  19. Made this tonight. I added shrimp and lump crab in addition to the crawfish. I also added a chopped yellow onion with the green onion. This was out of this world. I had to increase the butter to 3/4 cup and the half and half to 3 cups. My family was lapping it up. She was right about the garlic, I use the jar chopped garlic and added about what would equal 7 cloves. I did let the sauce simmer about 20 minutes to develop the flavor before I added the pasta. This will be added to my rotation by popular demand. Thanks.

    1. You're very welcome Sheryl and thank you for taking the time to let me know your family enjoyed it!!


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