Mr. Royley's Crawfish Stew

Prep Time: 1 1/2 Hours
Yields: 10 Servings

Like gumbo and jambalaya, crawfish stew is synonymous with Cajun cooking. This is a perfect recipe to prepare on a cool night at the camp. There is much time for relaxing and entertaining company as the stew slowly simmers.

5 pounds crawfish tails
1 cup crawfish fat (optional)
2 cups crawfish claws (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and black pepper to taste
11/2 cups vegetable oil
11/2 cups flour
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 cup tomato sauce
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
Louisiana hot sauce to taste
1 cup sliced green onions
1 cup chopped parsley

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Drain crawfish tails in a colander, reserving fat and natural juices. Sauté tails 5–10 minutes or until curled and heated thoroughly but not overcooked. Season with salt and pepper then set aside. In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly until dark brown roux is achieved. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are well caramelized. Stir occasionally to prevent vegetables from scorching. Pour in tomato sauce and cook 3 minutes. Slowly add water, 1 quart at a time, until thick stew consistency is achieved. Add crawfish fat, reserved drippings and bay leaves. Season liquid lightly with salt and pepper. Bring stock to a rolling boil then reduce to simmer and add sautéed crawfish, including pan drippings. Simmer stew approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Additional water may be needed during cooking process to retain volume and consistency. Once stew is full-flavored, adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add green onions, parsley and optional crawfish claws. Cook 15–20 minutes or until desired richness is achieved. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over steamed white rice.