Thursday, July 19, 2012

Spicy Crawfish Pasta

I first had this dish many, many years ago at a family gathering deep in the heart of Cajun country.  My mom wrote down the recipe and I always looked forward to its spicy, cheesy goodness when it was on the menu.

Last week, I set out to make crawfish etouffee but found myself fresh out of rice.  The wheels started turning when I spotted an unopened box of spaghetti hiding behind the flour.  I tweaked the original recipe to suit my cooking style, namely swapping a block of Velveeta for my favorite jack cheese.  It was as delicious as I remembered and tasted just as good for lunch the next day.  (Gotta love those dishes!)

Adapted from a family recipe

4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
3 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 lb peeled crawfish tails (I buy the frozen packages and thaw them in cold water)
8 oz Monterrey jack or jalapeno jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 tsp Cajun seasoning blend
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 lb dry pasta (I typically use fettuccine or spaghetti)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

 1.  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in butter until onions are tender. Stir in flour, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add crawfish tails. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

2.  Reduce heat to low. Stir in the half-and-half, Cajun seasonings, and cayenne pepper. Cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shredded cheese a handful at a time, stirring well after each addition. After all cheese is added, continue to stir until melted.

3.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stir noodles into crawfish mixture; pour into prepared dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

5.  Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

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