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It’s almost crawfish season

It’s so close to crawfish time that I just couldn’t resist going ahead and sharing my favorite recipes for these priceless Louisiana treasures. Don’t start arguing just yet. If you want big mudbugs to boil then you definitely need to wait awhile. Those won’t be around for a month or two. If you can’t stand the wait there are already some small ones out there. These two recipes don’t have to have fresh ones. If you were really planning ahead last year when you had crawfish left over from a boil you would have gone ahead peeled and frozen some for these recipes. However, if you want your recipes using crawfish to be the best they can be, here is my No. 1 suggestion; make sure your crawfish are from the U.S. and preferably from Louisiana.

There is no question that imported crawfish are cheaper and like many things in this world, you get what you pay for. I won’t go into all the details of how crawfish are raised, and how in the U.S. that water and area is monitored for sanitary reasons. Suffice it to say, buying local is the smart choice here for many reasons.

This first recipe is, hands down, besides a crawfish boil, my very favorite recipe. I would love to tell you if it is better the next day but we have never had any left! This dish is absolutely perfect served with my baked potato soup. The recipe comes from Amanda Jeansonne via the Trinity School cookbook, “The Flavor of Natchez.”

Crawfish Cornbread

1 pound crawfish tails (I like to use about a pound and a half. You can chop them coarsely to make them go further)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 medium onion, chopped (sometimes I use 1/2 white onion and then add chopped green onions)

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped jalapenos

1 can creamed corn

If you don’t have crawfish tails left from a “boil” that are already seasoned you should place your crawfish in a colander and sprinkle with Tony’s seasoning and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9-by-13 pan with nonstick spray. Lightly mix all the ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

This next recipe is crazy-easy and no one will believe that you could put it together as quickly as you can. This comes from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, “Something to Talk About,” from Lafayette. I’ve made some very small changes and included them in this recipe. I usually buy the fresh seasoning blend that you can find in the produce section instead of the frozen.

Easy Crawfish Fettuccini

2 pounds crawfish

Butter

14 ounce package of frozen chopped seasoning blend (onions, bell pepper and parsley), thawed

1 1 / 2 sticks of butter

1 / 4 cup of all-purpose flour

1 pound of Mexican Velveeta cheese, cut into small chunks

Half-and-Half

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound of fettuccini, cooked

In a large skillet, saute the crawfish tails in some butter until cooked or warmed through and set aside. In the same skillet, sauté the seasoning blend in the 1 and 1/2 stick of butter over medium until tender, not browned. Stir in the flour and cook for 15 minutes stirring constantly (this will get rid of the raw flour taste and make a small amount of roux for thickening). Add the crawfish tails and cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese melts. Add half-and-half until it is the consistency you desire. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the cooked pasta in a bowl and toss to coat. Serve with French bread and enjoy!

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.