Spring is time for crawfish

Published 11:31 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We are right on the edge of what little bit of spring we get here in the Miss-Lou and are about to plunge head first into the heat of summer. But for right now it’s crawfish season and there is nothing finer.

I love crawfish and my favorite way to eat them is at a crawfish boil. My favorite things to cook with crawfish are potatoes, small corn on the cobs, heads of garlic with their tops sliced off and sausage (andouille is my favorite). Once I went to a crawfish boil where huge mushrooms were boiled with everything else — they were delicious.

If you are a crawfish lover and have managed to be at a crawfish boil where there were leftovers — there rarely are — be sure to volunteer to help peel some of the leftovers for other dishes. If there aren’t any left over you can certainly find crawfish tails in the grocery store usually in the freezer section. Here is wonderful way to use your crawfish tails in a spin on an old favorite — stuffed bell peppers.

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Crawfish-Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 large green bell peppers

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 medium cloves of garlic, minced

6 green onions, finely chopped (including the green top)

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large tomato, peeled and minced

1 pound cooked crawfish tails, chopped

1 cup bottled clam juice

1 1/2 cups cooked white rice

Cut off and discard the tops of the 6 large green bell peppers. Carefully scoop out seeds and large ribs. Plunge the trimmed peppers into rapidly boiling water and parboil for 3 minutes. Remove from water and drain in a colander, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot add in all of the flour and whisk until smooth. Continue whisking until the roux is the color of peanut butter (about 20 to 25 minutes).

Add the onion, chopped bell pepper, garlic, green onions, parsley, oregano, basil, cayenne, black pepper and salt. Cook, stirring until vegetables are slightly wilted and the onion is transparent (about 5 minutes).

Add tomato and crawfish; stir to mix in, and then cook 5 minutes. Add the clam juice slowly, stirring to blend; cook for 15 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in rice, blending well. Trim the bottoms of the parboiled peppers so they will sit flat without tipping over. Then stuff the peppers with the crawfish mixture and set in a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Serve hot with a salad and French bread.

Christina Hall can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.