I can't believe I've never taken pictures of this spring ritual before.
With the weather finally (sort of) turning into warm weather here in Maine, we got the itch to have a get together. We've done this spring party several times before, back when we lived in Massachusetts, and this seemed like a perfect way to get our new neighborhood together for a low key way to welcome the change of seasons finally reaching this far north.
The Low Country Boil is the southern version of the New England clambake. Our version uses mudbugs instead of clams. And spices. Many spices. I'm not sure what Yankees have against flavor, but we keep working to introduce and educate them on the world beyond salt and butter.
I order live, farm-raised crawfish from a place in Louisiana. They ship them overnight in a cooler, along with a couple of ice-packs. When these guys get cold, they go dormant, and when you first open the cooler, it looks like a mesh bag full of still shells. But if you give them an hour or so to warm up, they start waking up and writhing around. The kids always love to touch them, and see them try and pinch with their little claws. And up here, it's easier to explain them as a 'tiny, freshwater lobster'.
In fact, crawfish (or crawdads, as we called them growing up) (or 'crayfish' if you insist on making my ears hurt at the sound of your voice), are native to pretty much anywhere. I am sure we have them in the pond behind our house. I used to chase them as a kid in the creek near where I grew up. We just have more of them in the South. Or we're more willing to eat something that crawled out from underneath a rock in the brook at the back of our property.
The recipe is pretty straightforward. I throw small, new red potatoes in a pot of simmering water, along with a bit of salt. They take the longest to cook, so I leave them be for a bit. After 30 minutes or so, I add chunks of andouille and smoked sausage, along with a pack of creole seasoning, which includes paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and some cayenne pepper.
After ten more minutes or so, I throw in corn (frozen is fine). And in the last ten minutes, I add crawfish.
I had ordered 20lbs (serving 40-50 people, along with other sides and goodies), and ended up having to do the crawfish in two parts. My lobster pot is big, but not that big.
It's one of the easiest things to serve.
Step 1) Spread out paper, and scoop out the crawfish and everything else from the pot.
Step 2) Stand around and eat.
You're going for the tail meat in a crawfish. Unless you get the occasional monster, there's nothing worthwhile in the claw. Snap the little guy in half, and pop that tail out, and chow down. If you're brave enough, you can 'suck the head' - pulling out the juices from the front half.
I toss a big pot on the table to collect all the shells - they'll go to the chickens, who enjoy the heck out of the treat. The rest of the goodies on the table (corn, potatoes, and sausage) make for nice treats in amongst the crawfish.
We ended up with a perfect day for the event. It was a rare 80 degree day in May, for Maine. Perfect blue skies, and plenty of cold beer. And a lot of good conversation. We had most of our neighbors pop round, and several treasured old friends from Massachusetts, as well as a few new colleagues.
The kids ran around until they were exhausted. The adventurous ones trying the crawfish. Our gardens are just really coming back to life, and we kept the iced tea and lemonade and ready to refresh the kids for another round of whatever game they were playing.
Even though it was 80+ during the day, as soon as the sun touched the tops of the trees the temperature started to drop. The house came with a huge, fantastic cauldron that doubles as a fire pit as needed.
Such a perfect day to have folks over, and an easy party to throw any time.
It's definitely starting to feel like an actual home now.