Michelle Ferrer · Jul 24, 2017 · 3 min read
Crawfish pie. It is the one and only thing my eight year-old son had on his New Orleans bucket list. He had his hopes set on finding a version as good as--or better than--the pie from Vivian's Cajun Crawfish Pies at downtown St. Petersburg’s Saturday Morning Market. Her version is chock full of crawfish and veggies bathed in a piping hot, perfectly seasoned sauce, and tucked into a flaky, buttery pie crust: my son will devour the entire thing before we can even get a bite. Vivian warned us that we wouldn't find anything as good in The Big Easy...I didn't believe her at the time.
Being in the crawfish capital of the world, how difficult could it be to find a pot pie with its signature ingredient? Fairly difficult, actually. We perused menus, stopped in cafes and asked around. Finally, we came to a shop that advertised its crawfish pies on the outside window. When our food arrived, my son's face brightened--and then his smile fell; their crawfish pie was palm-sized and looked like an empanada. The filling was scant: two of the tiniest fragments of a crawfish tail, a few veggies and barely any sauce. Their pie was fried and greasy. It was nothing like what he was expecting; his disappointment was evident.
As my husband and I ticked off the items on our NOLA bucket list: ghost tour, Cafe du Monde, jambalaya, pralines, art, and bookstores, my son's only item went unchecked. Vivian was right: we didn't find another pie in town.
Fast forward 6 months. I was determined to create something that would satisfy my son's crawfish craving for those times that we couldn't get to the Saturday market--corn and crawfish pie was born. This dish can be made anytime as frozen crawfish tails are available at Mazzaro's and Gulf Coast Seafood--no need to cook and shell the live guys. For the fresh components, I used delicate leeks, hearty carrots and celery; the shucked corn I had on hand added sweetness and texture. Trying to mimic the Cajun flavors was a challenge: I was winging it 100%. My end result was saucy and flavorful, teeming with crawfish and veggies, and topped with a lattice crust; my boy cleaned his plate, asked for seconds, and finished the rest off the next day.
After so many years in the kitchen, I am finally feeling confident enough to not always rely on recipes to guide me though every step of the way. I can now trust my palate and knowledge of flavors to come up with something pretty darn tasty; seeing my kiddo clean his plate three times was all the validation I needed. This crawfish pie is not Vivian's...and that's ok. We will still have her special treat on those days we make our Saturday morning run and for the other times when the craving hits, we'll have Michelle's.
CORN AND CRAWFISH POT PIE
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 leeks white and light green parts only, thickly sliced and soaked to remove dirt
- 2 carrots peeled and finely diced
- 1 cup celery and leaves finely diced
- 2-3 ears fresh corn shucked and kernels removed
- 1 teaspoon Salt divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning divided
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 16 oz frozen crawfish tails thawed, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 4 Tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 refrigerated pie crust rolled out
- 1 egg beaten
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and leeks to the pan. Sauté until leeks begin to soften and brown; season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add carrots and celery to pan, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh corn and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large baking dish. Set aside.
- In same pan, melt butter. Sauté crawfish tails for 2-3 minutes, coating well with the butter. Sprinkle in flour and stir well to coat. Allow to cook for 1 minute. Add vegetable stock, Old Bay seasoning, smoked paprika, pepper and remaining salt; stir well to combine. Bring to a gentle boil. When sauce has thickened, transfer to baking dish with vegetables. Stir well to evenly combine.
- Depending on the size and shape of your baking dish, top with pie crust--either whole or cut into strips and laid into a criss-cross pattern. Brush beaten egg over pie crust.
- Bake 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving; filling will be extremely hot.