6 Tbsp. butter plus 2 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. Crisco oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup minced parsley plus 1/4 finely chopped parsley
6 small fresh tomatoes, seeded and small diced
½ cup canned chicken broth
2 lbs. Louisiana crawfish tails (with fat)
2 tsps. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. Frank Davis Seafood Seasoning (to taste)
Kosher or sea salt to taste
4 cups steamed white rice
In a heavy, high-sided, 12-inch skillet, melt together the 6 tablespoons of butter and the Crisco oil and heat it on "high" just until it begins to foam. Then immediately toss in the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, green onions, and the half cup of parsley, and stir-fry the mixture until the veggies soften. At this point, it's time to drop in the chopped tomatoes, along with the half-cup of chicken broth, and combine everything until uniformly blended.
Now, still using high heat, stir constantly until the tomatoes wilt considerably and the tomato liquid reduces to at least one-half of its original volume--this should take anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes.
Next, add the crawfish tails. Then (again over high heat) continuously stir everything together until the tails begin to curl lightly--just about 5 minutes should do it. . .but do not overcook the crawfish or they'll become rubbery. At this point, drop in the lemon juice, the basil, and the bay leaves, and season the dish to your taste with the seafood seasoning. Then immediately cover the skillet, reduce the fire to low, and smother the mixture for about 5 minutes more. (Note that when you take the lid off the skillet again, the natural juices from the crawfish and the crawfish fat will have formed a light but robust sauce). If need be, this is the time to add an extra touch of salt to the skillet.
Finally, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to cream the crawfish mixture. Then serve it generously over a heaping bowl of hot steamed rice and garnish the bowl with a sprinkling of the remaining parsley. Ooooh, la la, mes amis!!
To add a touch of elegance to this dish, you can set aside about 1 dozen cleaned crawfish heads from a recent backyard mudbug boil and stuff them with a dressing made from the ecrevisse mixture. This is easily done by setting aside about a half cup or so of the crawfish mixture from the skillet and combining it with just enough bread crumbs in the food processor to produce a semi-pasty dressing. Then liberally stuff the mix into the cleaned crawfish heads, much as you would if you were making a classic bisque, and drop them down into the simmering skillet to finish cooking. As a special garni, you can also scoop out a couple of small tomatos, bake them uncovered on a sheet pan at 400 degrees until they just begin to wilt, fill them when they cool with several of the stuffed heads and a sprig or two of parsley, and place them into the pot of crawfish when you serve the dish.
If you'd prefer to concoct this recipe using shrimp instead of crawfish, go right ahead. It works well!
Should you choose to use Roma tomatoes in this recipe, use about 8 to 10 of them. When I make reference to "small" tomatoes, I mean the standard round tomatoes.