9/10/10 Twin Cities’ Eats
It’s football season….time to think football food. Consider a southern tradition, a Crawfish boil!
Let’s talk football for a second. I’m a junkie. I have been since I could figure out the difference between a football and a pacifier. I bleed purple (more often than I want sadly) and I pay more attention to college football games than anyone this side of Vegas. My mom used to think something was wrong with me. But, what can you do? If a game is on, I’m watching it (yes, I DVR Boise St.-Virginia Tech and I’ll be watching Virginia-USC at midnight on Saturday….sad but true). I tend to creep people out during games because I regularly say something right before the TV analyst does. A rare and bizarre talent I guess.
So, what’s my point?
Well, we all watch football (and if the Viking ratings for last night show us anything, it’s that we are fanatics for the purple). We all have football parties. Which means football food, doesn’t it?
L’il Smokies, brats, burgers, chicken wings, nacho dip, etc. Boring. How many party subs and limp quesadillas can you eat?
Here’s a suggestion.
We went to a “party” Thursday night for the Vikings-Saints opener. I think Anne and I were the only native Minnesotans out of about a dozen people. Transplants from Florida, South Carolina, Iowa, Kansas, etc. (we are becoming a melting pot here aren’t we?). Our hosts decided that since we’re playing the Saints, it was Cajun night!
Here’s an easy way to please a big group and make it a very social experience. A seafood boil!
The sign of a good Crawfish Boil…newspaper, napkins, Old Bay and, yes, Beer!
If you’ve never seen or heard of this, the basics are these….take a big pot, fill it with water and seasoning, and then drop in a bunch of food. Once it’s done, you drain the water; line a table with newspapers and dump all the food out. Then people pick away at it at their leisure. Easy cooking, easy cleanup and a ton of fun…perfect for a football party.
Goin’ to town on the newspaper!
Now the questions….what do you use in seafood boils and how on earth is “boiled food” good? Well, pretty much anything you can come up with can go in there and the “good food” part comes from the seasoning. The best way to do this is to cook food in batches. This is a a great way to make food last all day and nothing gets cold….do a batch, when that’s eaten, do another. Perfect for a Saturday or Sunday full of football! And if you haven’t had a beer by the time the waters boiling, why are you still reading this?
- Take the biggest pot you have and fill it with water (need one? Home Depot has a beauty or you can do a simple Google search and find a million of them from $20 and up).
- Most of the next part you kind of have to do “to taste” as they say…how spicy you want it and all that. But the basics are this:
- Add the spices…Halved lemons, Garlic, Bay Leaves, Cayenne, Cloves, Onions, Old Bay seasoning, Salt, Pepper, Hot Sauce (easiest thing to do is buy a pre-packaged seasoning packet like Zatarain’s Crab & Shrimp Boil which you can get at any grocery store. Then add the halved lemons, onions and hot sauce)
- New Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, cut in halves or quarters…those can go in first as they take the longest to cook
- Andouille sausage or Kielbasa, cut into 2-inch pieces (you don’t need it, but you should!). I would consider crisping them up a bit in a pan or on the grill but again, whatever works for you.
- Seafood you’re into….Crawfish is a staple but not everyone is into that plus they’re difficult to find in Minnesota. Some places will ship live but that can be expensive. You can buy frozen or pre-boiled online which is about the best we can do in the frozen north! Definitely get shrimp. That’s easy. Try crab or lobster too.
- Experiment with veggies….celery, carrots, artichokes, onions, whole garlic and whatever else you like.
- When it’s done, you dump it on the table. Serve with more lemons, plenty of Old Bay seasoning, hot sauce and dig in! You don’t even need plates! Just grab what you need, dump everything on the newspaper and cleanup is a cinch.
Now, you went with the crawfish and you don’t know how to eat them? Here’s how:
- Grab the crawfish head with one hand, and the tail with the other
- Gently squeeze the tail end of the body close to where it joins the head. Hold the head steady and gently twist the tail end, still applying pressure. The meaty end will twist out of the head.
- With the shell still partially intact, bring the tail meat to your mouth and sink your teeth into the exposed meat. Chomp down on it, and it will pop into your mouth as you leave the tail behind.
- The part that shows if you are a true Cajun or not is if you eat the head. Take the head and suck the hot, spicy juices out of it. Sound gross? It’s not….try it. It’s the best part!
- Now, they ARE a lot of work for what you get out of it. We’re not talking about lobster tails here. But, the taste is delicious and you can pick away at them all day without worrying about your waistline.
Yes, that’s my pile of Crawfish heads. Don’t be afraid! “Mudbugs” are good!
Just something different to try next time the crew shows up at your trophy home or starter-castle (copyright Mike Lynch). I love the “theme” meals. When the Vikes play Miami next Sunday, what can you do? How about Cuban pulled pork or Cuban sandwiches? Ceviche or grill up some Grouper and Snapper (more on the Snapper here).
After that, the Vikes have Detroit and you can make………….wait, I’ll come up with something………maybe Google will help……………
OK, near as I can tell, Detroit is famous for……….Coney Dogs. Wait a second. Weren’t Coney Dogs invented in New York? You know, Coney Island? Why is Detroit famous for Coney Dogs? Wait, here’s another one. Square pizza. Yes, Detroit is famous for square pizza. Enjoy.
Well, the food is as bad as the team I guess.
Go Vikes, go Gophers and happy football season!