What says Jazz Fest to you right after the music? The food! And besides the smoked turkey wings and gumbo what says it the most? Crawfish Monica. So if you can’t make it to the food tent consider your kitchen your very own tent and make it like this.
Invented on a whim by chef Pierre Hilzim and named after his wife Monica, Crawfish Monica was born in the 80s and is now served at Jazz Fest and available to order from their company Kajun Kettle.
My version is very similar but since I also love fennel in all its forms I decided to add it and it’s good (if you like fennel.)
I also did a version with leeks instead of green onions but the taste wasn’t different enough to warrant the trouble and expense of the leeks so it was back to green onions. The only other variation was the use of lemon juice only instead of wine and lemon juice. If you have wine by all means use it but the lemon serves well. And one other thing – I like lots of crawfish so I only use half a pound of the rotini instead of the whole box, but you can always add more if you need or want to stretch it.
To get started you will chop up all the choppable items including the root of the fennel bulb as you see below:
Once the veg has softened add the cream, spices and crawfish (I get the bagged kind) and set it aside to let the flavors meld while you boil the pasta. I use rotini because it’s traditional and those little kinks hold the sauce well. However, it’s also great for parties while eating on the hoof since you can eat it with a spoon like this:
- For the sauce:
- 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
- 1 cup sliced green onions (white part, reserve green tops)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 diced fennel bulb (retain tops)
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tsp. ground fennel
- 1 tsp. ground thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup lemon juice, scant (or half lemon juice/half white wine)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 lb. crawfish meat tail meat
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, civided, half for sauce, half for topping
- For the Pasta:
- ½ lb. Rotini
- For the sauce:
- In a large pot melt the butter and add the green onions, garlic, and fennel. Cook over medium heat until softened but not brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add parsley, ground spices, salt and red pepper flakes and cream.
- Stir in crawfish meat with the fat and gradually add the lemon juice tasting it along the way. You may prefer a little less than ¼ cup.
- Once the crawfish is heated through add the cheese.
- For the pasta:
- Boil the rotini in salted water according to package directions, let drain for several minutes and add to the sauce.
- To serve:
- Place in serving dish or individual bowls and add reserved parsley & cheese to taste.