Lay out the lemons and reel off the paper towels. Crawfish season is late, bigger and better this year.
“We have had a phenomenal season this year,” said Jason Cogburn, owner/sales director of Boyd’s One Stop in Texas City.
“It started off kind of slow because of the winter we had. We’re about at the peak and crawfish are really good size; the quality is excellent and they’re looking great.”
Cogburn has been working with crawfish since 1996 at the fishing and seafood market. He predicts a late end to the season and a dip in prices down to 99 cents, probably after Mother’s Day.
“The season really usually shuts down after Father’s Day, but I think it will carry over till the 4th of July this year since it started so late,” he said.
Sharon Mitchiner also is a veteran when it comes to crawfish, although she specializes in the serving side of a feast. The program assistant for the Better Living for Texans nutrition education program often helps set up the family crawfish boil.
Mitchiner is famous for stretching the ingredient list to create a load of leftovers.
“You have a large capacity container so you might as well get some extra cooking done at the same time,” she said.
Her son John Mitchiner Jr. is in charge of the crawfish shift, but she commandeers room near the end of the boil to add mesh bags of asparagus, mushrooms and other fresh vegetables.
“There are just a lot of ways to get a lot of mileage out of it,” Mitchiner said, speaking from the Texas AgriLife Extension office in La Marque. “There are a lot of ways to make use of your resources.”
Crawfish are so popular this year that Landry’s Inc. has put a Crawfish Wagon out on the road for private events and festivals. The customized food truck can produce 1,000 pounds of cooked crawfish per hour.
Last month alone, the wagon cooked up more than 20,000 pounds of crawfish, according to Keith Beitler, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Landry’s Specialty Restaurants and Amusement Divisions and International Franchising.
At a glance
- The fifth annual Red, White and Bayou Crawfish & Texas Music Festival is May 17 in Dickinson, www.redwhiteandbayou.com.
- The inaugural Ragin Cajun Festival is May 16-18 in Kemah, www.gulfcoastfestivals.com.
- Landry’s Crawfish Wagon will be located at the Kemah Boardwalk this month. The wagon will travel to public or private events in Houston and surrounding areas and is available to rent for company functions, parties, festivals, weddings, picnics, etc. Call 281-538-9600.
- Order crawfish online at Boyd’s One Stop at 227 Dike Road, in Texas City or online at www.boydsonestop.com.
Farmer’s Seafood Boil
6 ounces crab boil
6 ounces shrimp boil
2 tablespoons salt
12 whole new potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
4 onions, quartered
1 link pork or Italian sausage, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
2 pounds crawfish
3 ears corn, cut in thirds
In a large boiling pot, bring a gallon of water, crab and shrimp boil and salt to a boil.
Add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Add the onions and sausage and boil for 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and corn.
Boil for 5 minutes more. Drain and serve with crusty bread and a cold beverage.
(SOURCE: Developed by Annette Reddell Hegen for the Texas Sea Grant College Program and Texas Agricultural Extension Service)
Crawfish feast at home
- For a DIY private crawfish feast, here are some tips from local experts:
- Prepare extra vegetables, including fresh asparagus, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms; place them in mesh bags and cook late in the boil to make a vegetarian feast and tasty leftovers. Cold asparagus, with that seafood boil flavor, is excellent on a salad.
- Cook extra potatoes and recycle leftovers in potato salad or as a side dish with eggs. The Cajun seasoning gives them an extra punch.
- Use a roll of brown craft paper or newspaper sections to cover the table. Put out paper towels and bowls of quartered lemons for hand-cleaning. When the feast is over, dump the shells onto the paper, roll it all up and put it in the trash.
- Boyd’s One Stop in-house restaurant sprinkles Texas Shell Shock over a finished batch of crawfish. The low-salt boil and finishing sauce is made by a Houston company and contains no MSG. “It’s not salty and people just love it,” said Jason Cogburn, owner/sales director of Boyd’s One Stop in Texas City.
- Cogburn uses a three-step boil process — boil, chill and heat the crawfish back up in a sauce.
- Sharon Mitchiner, the program assistant for the Better Living for Texans nutrition education program, has one last line of advice. “Enjoy,” she said. “The season is not that long.”