With possibly more names than Eskimos have for snow, Louisiana crawfish—a.k.a. mudbugs, yabbies, crayfish, crawdads, crawdaddies, creekcrabs, and les écrevisses—usually appear in late winter and are in season through June. Call them whatever you want, but try them in this jambalaya riff from Rusty Knot chef Joaquin Baca, who also provides helpful eating instructions for Yankees, below.
Joaquin Baca’s Chicken, Sausage, and Crawfish
2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
4 chicken legs, drumsticks and thighs separated
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced on the bias about 1-inch thick (available at Salumeria Biellese)
2 cups canned tomato, crushed
Hot sauce to taste
1 tbsp. gumbo filé (available at Kalustyan’s)
3 lbs. live crawfish (available at Wild Edibles by special order)
5 cups cooked white rice (should be a little undercooked: use about ½ cup less water than normal)
1 cup thin-sliced celery
Roughly torn celery leaves
2 tbsp. sliced scallion
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chicken and sausage (in batches if the pot becomes too crowded) and brown until they achieve a nice even color, about five to ten minutes. Add tomatoes and enough water to cover. Salt and simmer for 45 minutes. If necessary, add more water to cover. Adjust seasoning. Add hot sauce to taste and gumbo filé. Add the crawfish, making sure they are submerged in the liquid. Cover pot and cook for one minute. Add the par-cooked rice and simmer for about five minutes until absorbed and the jambalaya isn’t too soupy. Take pot off heat and add celery, celery leaves, scallion, and parsley. Serves 5–7.
HOW TO EAT A CRAWFISH
(1) Twist the tail apart from the head. (2) Peel away a bit of the top of the tail shell, and pinch tail just above the fans to get at the meat. (3) Suck the juices from the head and scoop out the fat with your pinkie.