A quicker, off-season version of Crawfish Bisque made using frozen pureed and whole Louisiana crawfish tails, commercial seafood or chicken stock, the trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery), tomatoes, corn and Cajun seasonings.
Shortcut Crawfish Corn BisqueBisque is a soup. A fairly thick, generally smooth and creamy soup, made from seafood, though often fully pureed to intensify the flavors, leaving no recognized ingredients behind, except perhaps of a garnish. Seafood is precious, even down here on the Gulf Coast where it is abundant, so I prefer not to puree all of it, but rather to use a fairly rough puree to add body to the soup, but also keep some pieces whole, along with the trinity (onion, bell pepper and celery) for texture and appearance.
For a classic Cajun-style Louisiana crawfish bisque, you would first have a big crawfish boil, then pick enough meat from those freshly boiled crawfish, reserving the crawfish shells and claws to prepare a simple stock. The bodies would be cleaned well and then stuffed with a seafood bread stuffing that will be added to the bisque before serving.
It's a dish made for spring, when crawfish are both inexpensive and plentiful, and from start to finish, it is a time-consuming, labor of love to prepare - a long and involved, often two-day process. It depends on size of course, but generally speaking, you'll need at least 5 to 6 pounds of whole crawfish to get a pound of tails, which you can peel and freeze during peak spring season. Just know if somebody prepares an authentic Cajun crawfish bisque with homemade crawfish stock and stuffed heads, they really, really, really love you!
Yes, I actually had cleaned crawfish bodies to make a bisque one spring, but then we moved, they got shuffled around in the deep freeze and by the time I found them again, enough time had passed I figured I need to pitch them and start over. I'll get to it again one day.
We're gonna shortcut the process and cheat a bit.
No less love, all the flavor, but a quicker soup. I'm using frozen Louisiana tails which are available year round, so no bodies to stuff, making this a still tasty, but much easier bisque. Besides, you can make crawfish cakes, boulettes or even boudin balls to serve with this soup if you like!
Southern Style Hissy Fit Warning: Buy Louisiana crawfish. Period. Yes, the imports can be substantially cheaper, but do not waste your money buying cheap imported crawfish, or shrimp for that matter. Trust me, you get what you pay for and the results are disappointing.
There are imported brands of crawfish designed to appear to be from Louisiana, often by use of a "Cajun sounding" name, using deceptive marketing practices. Don't fall for it. Look for the "Certified Cajun" seal on the package, or flip it over to find the country of origin in tiny print at the bottom. Since I'm using frozen tails, I'm gonna freshen these with a tiny bit of liquid crab boil, but that's totally optional.
Since I have no fresh crawfish, I'm also cheating a bit and using Kitchen Basics Seafood Stock. I really love this brand of stocks and it's readily available around here. Whether it's chicken, turkey, beef, vegetable, they are all high-quality stocks and I love them. If you can't get your hands on a seafood stock, chicken broth is a fine substitute.
Transfer crawfish tails to a bowl and squeeze all fat out of bag. Stir in 2 cups of stock and liquid crab boil, if using. Take it easy though - that stuff is concentrated! Set aside. From there it's just chopping and sauteing the onion, bell pepper and celery, pureeing a portion of the crawfish, and adding the remaining ingredients. A short simmer and adjustment of the seasonings and boom,,, you're done!
Taste, add seasonings and adjust. Spoon into serving bowls over rice; garnish each with crawfish and a pinch of sliced green onion.
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Recipe: Shortcut Crawfish Corn Bisque©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 40 minYield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1 pound crawfish tails, with fat, divided
- Up to 4 cups seafood or chicken broth, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil, optional
- 2 tablespoons butter or bacon drippings
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
- 1 rib celery, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups half and half, whole milk or heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sliced green onion, save a pinch for garnish
- 1 (10-14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, well-drained
- 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
- 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Transfer crawfish tails to a bowl and squeeze all fat out of bag. Stir in 2 cups of the broth and the crab boil, if using; stir and set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan or soup pot and saute onion, bell pepper and celery until tender, about 4 minutes' stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, drain broth from crawfish into food processor or blender and add about a third of the crawfish, pulsing to puree. Do not steady process or the crawfish will get pasty.
Add puree, milk and green onion to pot along with diced tomatoes and corn; bring mixture to a near boil. Reserve a few crawfish for garnish, if desired, and add remaining crawfish to pot. Reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 30 minutes, adding additional broth (or water) if needed, to reach desired consistency. Taste, add seasonings and adjust. Spoon into gumbo bowls over rice and garnish each with crawfish and a pinch of sliced green onion. Also good served with boudin balls or seafood boulettes.
Cook's Notes: Doubles nicely. For a milder version, omit the liquid crab boil and use regular diced tomatoes, adjusting Creole/Cajun seasoning as needed. A true bisque is smooth, however, in the Deep South, we prefer not to puree the entire soup. If pureeing, transfer the crawfish and all of the liquid to a food processor or blender, Add sauteed trinity and pulse until pureed. Add mixture to pot, stir in flour and proceed as above. If using fresh corn, remove from cob and saute with the trinity. Stir in 1/2 cup picked through fresh crab at the end and warm through, if desired. May also be made with shrimp, however be sure to taste and adjust for seasonings due to lack of crawfish fat.
For Stuffed Crawfish Shells: You'll need 1-1/2 pounds of cooked crawfish tails. Finely mince or grind 1/2 pound of them. Reserve and clean shells so that you have only the body as pictured above. Saute 1/4 cup each minced sweet or yellow onion and celery in 1 tablespoon butter until tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Mix in Cajun seasoning and Old Bay to taste, 1 small egg, 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley and 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Add the minced crawfish and gently toss, adding additional bread crumbs as needed to form stiff mixture.
Pinch off pieces of the stuffing and shape into a tight cylinder. Press firmly into the crawfish bodies. Stuffing should fit tightly. Freeze any leftover stuffing for another use. Bake on a sheet pan in preheated 375 degree F oven, for about 25 minutes, or fry in 1/2 inch oil, stuffing side down, until stuffing is well browned. Prepare bisque as above, adding stuffed shells the last 10 minutes to warm though, or top each serving bowl with them.
Extract stuffing with fork to eat, leaving empty body shells around the rim of the bowl until discarded. This mixture can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for several days or frozen. You can also shape into balls or patties, pan fry and serve along with the bisque without the shells.
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