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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