4 Tbsp. sweet cream butter

4 Tbsp. corn or peanut oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2/3 cup celery, finely diced

1/2 cup bell pepper, finely diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 lbs. crawfish tails, coarse chopped

6 cups boiled, chopped red potatoes

3 raw eggs, well beaten

1/4 cup minced parsley

1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced

2 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning

1 stick melted margarine

1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup milk

4 Tbsp. butter

4 Tbsp. all purpose flour

2 cups low-fat milk

1/4 cup cocktail sherry

2/3 cup chopped spinach

1 cup shredded cheddar/Monterey Jack mix

8 hamburger buns, toasted

First, in a heavy 12-inch skillet, combine the butter and the corn oil together and bring it to medium heat on the stove top.

Then lightly saute the vegetables the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic until they wilt and soften (figure this will take you about 8 minutes or so).

While the veggies are simmering take a chef's knife and coarsely chop the crawfish tails (if they are exceptionally small you can leave them whole, but if they're pretty good size they'll need chopping to blend with the potatoes).

At this point, add the chopped tails to the skillet and uniformly stir everything together.

Then with the flame set at medium high, cook the mixture until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended about 3 minutes but don't overcook it otherwise you'll shrivel up the crawfish tails and make them as tough as wound rubber bands.

One more suggestion: since this dish goes together best if the potatoes are hot when blended with the crawfish mixture, I recommend you boil and drain the potatoes while the crawfish mixture is simmering so that they're both ready to use at the same time.

Next, combine the 'taters and mudbugs in a large mixing bowl.

Then add the raw eggs (but work them into the mixture quickly so that they don't scramble), stir in the parsley and the onion tops, and sprinkle in the seafood seasoning.

Finally, using a large Teflon-coated skillet or a well-seasoned grilltop placed over medium-high heat, form crawfish cakes about the size of hamburger buns and cook them on both sides in melted margarine until they turn a beautifully toasted brown but be gentle when you turn them because they're light and will have a tendency to fall apart.

You can either shape the patties by hand (this is sometimes difficult because the potato mixture may be too hot to hold in your palms), or scoop out a large spoonful, plop it down on the grilltop, and mold a 'pattie' using two egg-turner style spatulas.

By the way, you can dip the two spatulas in a 50/50 water and milk mixture to keep the crawfish cakes from sticking to the spatulas. Oh, and for a more intense flavor, I also like to brush the top of the crawfish cakes with a little extra melted margarine as they cook. As the 'cakes' come out of the skillet or off the grill, place them onto a Pyrex serving platter and slide them into a warming oven to keep them toasty.

In the meantime, make your topping sauce. You do this by mixing together in a 2-quart saucepot the 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour just whisk it gently over medium-low heat until it forms a light roux (you don't want the mixture to brown). then stir in the low-fat milk (a little more or less depending on the thickness you desire), a splash of cocktail sherry, the chopped spinach, and about 1 cup of shredded cheese, along with a little salt and red pepper to taste. Then the sauce gets hot and bubbly and reaches the consistency of pancake batter, it's ready to eat!

All that's left then is to butter about 8 hamburger buns and toast them under the broiler. Then ladle a little of the sauce over the bun, top it with a crawfish cake, top off the cake with another ladle full of sauce, and place the lid on the bun. Served with a cold crisp salad and a chilled glass of white wine, this makes the perfect Friday Lenten meal!


Chef's Notes:

You can make a large batch of patties ahead of time and store them in your freezer for instant access.

To keep then from sticking together, separate the patties with sheets of waxed paper. They're great for school lunch boxes, late-night snacks, and other occasions when you get the urge to chow down.

Oh and if you choose to serve them as a dinner entree instead of a sandwich, just plate them up covered with sauce, set them next to a batch of steamed broccoli and buttered carrots, alongside a sliced tomato salad, and you're set!

One more thing you need not use crawfish alone. You can prepare the basic recipe and substitute anything from shrimp, crabmeat, salmon, tuna, shredded pork, diced smoked sausage, minced chicken, ad infinitum. The creativity is left to your imagination!