Crawfish Bisque

Crawfish Stew:
1 lb. cleaned crawfish tails
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic (depending on size) finely chopped
1 tsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and green onion tops
Salt, black pepper, and red pepper (cayenne) to taste
1 tsp. paprika

Start with the roux. Brown flour and oil in iron skillet until dark brown. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. After the roux is cooked to the desired color, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook until soft and transparent. Stir constantly at a low temperature. Add crawfish fat and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes longer. In the meantime put about 6 cups of luke warm water in a medium size kettle (do not use a black cast iron pot for this will discolor your crawfish). Add the above mixture to the water and cook for about 1 hour -- so that all the vegetables are cooked. Season to taste. If more liquid is needed, instead of water, add a can of chicken broth. Add the seasoned crawfish tails to the stew and continue cooking for about 20 minutes.

Stuffing for Crawfish Heads:
1 lb. cleaned crawfish tails with fat
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 or 2 finely minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup oil
10 to 12 slices of day old bread or the equivalent in French bread which has been toasted and run through a blender until it is the consistency of cracker crumbs
Salt and black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
2 slightly beaten eggs

Saute onion, celery, and minced garlic in oil until all are tender. Add seasonings and the crawfish fat. Cook for a few minutes. Add tails, which have been finely chopped, and the bread crumbs and mix thoroughly. Cook over very low heat until all ingredients have thoroughly blended -- you may have to add water (or stock) and about 4 tablespoons butter or margarine so the mixture will be moist. Remove from heat and cool slightly -- gradually add the beaten eggs to the mixture and stir until all egg has been absorbed. Add finely chopped parsley and green onion tops. In the meantime, remove eyes from the crawfish head and boil head for a few minutes to clean them. Stuff each head with the mixture -- they should be filled with enough to form a rounded-off top. About 30 minutes before the bisque is to be served, place the stuffed heads on a baking sheet or pan and bake in oven at about 325F until the tops have become crisp and slightly brown. Drop the stuffed heads into the hot stew, add finely chopped parsley and green onion tops. Serve piping hot over steamed rice.

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Cajun Country -- New Iberia, Louisiana