Summer Crawfish Boil

It's not all work and no play over here.  We took some time a couple weeks ago to throw a party for our friends and family and decided to add a southern twist to the backyard bash by having a crawfish boil.

We first ate crawfish in Texas a couple years ago and I'd say they are a mix between lobster and shrimp taste-wise, with the fun of a crab fest, (which I used to do every summer growing up and visiting my grandparents in Maryland).

Since we're nowhere near Louisiana, we did the next best thing and had live crawfish flown in for everyone to enjoy.  Since we were shelling out (pun intended) a pretty penny for the crawfish we had to keep the cost of decorations and such to a minimum, so I googled "crawfish boil invites" found some I liked and made my own in Photoshop, (I would have liked to have bought the invites, but I waited too long for them to be ready anyways).

We've never cooked crawfish, let alone host a party serving them, so Mike and I were a little hesitant as to what to expect.  Mike was in charge of research and purchasing the little guys and we ended up going with Louisiana Crawfish Co.  We expect about 30-35 people to show up, so we ordered 70 lbs.  Since the party was on Saturday, we had them shipped to us Friday night.  I was home when the UPS guy showed up, and carried these to the front porch:

Of course, I had to open them to see what was inside and boy did they stink, think swamp water and feet.  Each cooler was cold packed and came with all the seasonings and even some Mardi Gras beads!

Since it was in the high 90's that day I shlepped them inside to keep them cool.  I could hear the little claws scrapping against the styrofoam and the whole house smelled because I couldn't help myself and kept opening the lid.

When Mike got home he used the basement utility sink to wash them off (keeping them in the bag) and repacked them with some ice packs.

The next day we worked our arses off and since it was again in the high 90's, sweated them off as well.  Thankfully my coworker brought his giant tent for us to use after I complained about the possibility of the heat ruining the party.  If it wasn't for the tent, we would have had a lot of sweaty and unhappy guests.  As it was, with the tent blocking the sun and some fans blowing cooler air from the garage around, it was actually pretty cool.

As you can see, we set up the tables under tent, then set up a small tent to the left where the cornhole boards were.  On the deck we set up some chairs, but because of the heat, it wasn't used almost at all.  I wanted to keep the decorations to a minimum, and tried to keep it to red, brown, and white, but being so close to July 4th, it was hard to find things without blue, so I gave in and put up a couple frilly things. 

Besides a couple more pinwheels on the deck, we also added was some sting lights.  I've wanted to do this for some time, and finally had an excuse.  Unfortunately, starting a party at 3 pm means that even the diehards are leaving around 8ish, before it gets dark and lights are even needed.  Because we were so excited about it, (and coming down for the party high), Mike and I did hang out under the lights after everyone left.

We used 2 sets of lights from Target at $12 a piece and zip tied them to a gutter bracket on the overhang.

To create the height at the edges of the deck we used the iron bars from a bar clamp thing Mike uses for large projects.  He used large zip ties to attach them to the deck posts, then more zip ties to attach an extension cord to the lights.  I asked Mike to do this and of course he doesn't understand that esthetically bright orange extension cords don't go with anything, but they were up and I was happy.  And, he even said that the next time we do it, he'll use a black cord.  He's learning. 

In keeping with our minimalist decorating budget, we went hillbilly and prepared and served the crawfish in Rubbermaid containers and coolers.  Truth is, that those were the only thing that would fit all the crawfish.  Before everyone showed up, Mike and our friend Dave washed all the mudbugs and threw away any floaters. 

After a pretty extensive cooking schedule, (something like: bring to boil, boil crawfish for 2 minutes, turn off heat, sit for 15 minutes, take out, put in cooler layering with seasoning, steam for 20 minutes), they were done!  And SO good! 

We also boiled corn on the cob, kielbasi, potatoes and onions to go along with the crawfish, and had hotdogs and all the regular stuff found at picnics like pasta salad, chips, and brownies for those that weren't adventurous enough to try the crawfish.

If anyone's looking to have a crawfish boil, I must first warn you that it's a dirty job.  But, if your willing to work a little for your food and not afraid to get your hands dirty, it's so worth it. 

 My dad had a blast, and definitely wasn't afraid to get messy, or have fun with them!

Even my grandma had fun.  It's a family joke that she always ends up wearing what she eats, so she brought a little help to keep her shirt clean.  For the first time, she was about the only one who didn't leave wearing a little of the crawfish juice.   

Everyone talked about the party for weeks and we're already planning on what we'll do for next summer.  Maybe something different like a clambake?  Who knows, now that we're experts at the crawfish cooking, maybe it'll be an annual thing.

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