Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crawfish Town, Henderson, Louisiana

If you love stewed crawfish, this is the place to go.  Crawfish Town is located in Henderson just north of I-10, Exit 115.  Headed west on I-10, take the first exit on leaving the Achafalaya Basin; headed east, take the last exit before the basin.  And don't worry about finding a table, unless it's Friday night during Lent ... this place is huge.

Crawfish Bisque:

This dish is a must and it doesn't come with the crawfish platter.  It's not the cream bisque you see in most places not located in Cajun land.  It's one of the more pricy items, but well worth it if you know the labor involved in making this dish.  The soup has a roux base with crawfish stewed in it. But that is not the best part...

The stuffed heads.  These crawfish shells are cleaned and stuffed with a seasoned crawfish-breadcrumb  meal.  When my grandmother made this dish, she scrubbed the shells with a toothbrush.  Boiling the heads clean and rinsing them after is sufficient.  

The advantage to boiling them is that the debris in the boiled water makes a great stock.  Strain the liquid after boiling and then reduce the stock by three quarters.  Afterwards freeze the reduction in an old fashion plastic ice cube tray.  When frozen, remove the cubes to a plastic bag to keep them from becoming freezer burnt.  Use them later as needed for stews and soups.  My guess is that is what many in Cajun country cooks use for the base of their bisque.

By the way, Crawfish Town sells their frozen crawfish bisque in the store in the foyer of the restaurant.  It has a price, but is well worth it.  I always add more crawfish tails to the bisque when I get home.

If you want to make it yourself, there are three recipes in the River Roads I & II cookbooks.

The Crawfish Festival:

The crawfish festival platter comes with fried crawfish tails, crawfish ettoufee, crawfish balls, crawfish pie, gumbo, and boiled seafood of choice.  

When getting a crawfish platter, I always choose boiled crawfish, though you can get crab or shrimp.  See how the tails are curved ... that means they are good to eat.  Never eat straight-tailed crawfish.

For the novice, shrimp are easier to peel; crabs are the most difficult.  Remember, even the best restaurants often season seafood mildly because many of their patrons have digestive problems.  You may want to supplement the seasoning on the boiled servings.

See those cylinder boxes of seasoning; put some from one of those two on your boiled seafood after peeling ... the seasoning will enhance the flavor.  They also sell the seasonings in the store.  At home, I keep their season mixes in the refrigerator and use it for the more delicate Cajun dishes I make.

Ettoufee is a stewed crawfish dish which is generally started with a roux and seasoned with onions, garlic, and sometimes bell pepper and celery.  I use all four in my ettoufee.  Served over rice, this dish is definitely rib-sticking.

Warning if you are doing this at home: there are two kinds of frozen crawfish tails in the grocery stores: Louisiana crawfish and crawfish from China.  Read the small print.  You can expect the Louisiana crawfish to have a much higher price.  The Chinese crawfish tails have an oily taste if cooked fast.  Just stew them over a low fire for about three hours to get the oily taste out.  

The fried crawfish tails are to the left of this picture and the crawfish ball is in the top center.  Their crawfish tails appear to be pre-seasoned and fried in a seasoned flour.  They taste great.  Never save fried crawfish tails for the to-go box.  Take home the ettofee or something else because they reheat better than the fried tails.

Warning if you are doing this at home: don't use the Chinese crawfish tails.  The fried tails will taste oily because deep frying is a fast cook.  Spend the extra bucks for the good stuff from Louisiana when frying crawfish tails.  

The crawfish balls are my favorite.  It's a crawfish stuffing mixture rolled up into a ball and deep fried.  Food doesn't get any better than this.  I always hope that whomever I'm with saves the crawfish balls for last and then gets full.

Crawfish pie, your own personal crawfish pie.  I never learned how to make a good crawfish pie, so I really enjoy their pie saving it for last.  It's a lot like an ettoufee but with bread crumbs or flour, and not as mealy as the stuffing in the bisque heads.

A complementary bread pudding is served as desert.  And I generally get that to go ... too full otherwise.

Crabcake Atchafalaya

This is a scrumptious pasta dish and the crabcake is wonderful, but I get the dish because the pasta has crawfish cooked in it.  I always request a spoon with my pasta dishes.  The spoon assists in the pasta twirling process and cuts down on the Breakfast-Bro stains on my shirts.  This dish is a great follow to a cup of crawfish bisque.

 The Menu:

Their are many other dishes on the menu.  Sadly, when I go to Crawfish Town I go for crawfish and nothing else.  So I can't help you with the other menu items.  My guess is that if the place can fry, stew, and pasta crawfish well, the other stuff is just as good.  English teachers: How's that for dancing between the use of good and well!

For a complete menu and additional information, go to

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