The hubby and I just returned from our annual New Orleans Jazz Fest date weekend. We had an awesome time and the weather was absolutely amazing–a far cry from last year’s cold, rainy and muddy event. We spent two glorious days frolicking around the Fair Grounds eating, drinking, craft shopping, soaking up some rays, taking in a couple of cool cooking demonstrations and–of course–enjoying some of the finest music on earth. Anyone who loves listening to live music and eating the finest fest food around in an environment enhanced by local culture and interesting people watching needs to add Jazz Fest to their bucket list. It’s the festival of all festivals.
Coincidentally, or not, Jazz Fest falls smack-dab in the middle of crawfish season. Because of this impeccable timing, fest-goers can taste their way through fifteen or so different crawfish delicacies. I usually seek out at least two crawfish-inspired food items each year (besides many other eats). But the crawfish I look forward to the most during this fun-filled weekend are the ones Larry and his dad prepare at my in-laws’ house on the last night of our visit. This backyard boil has become as much a part of our yearly tradition as the fest itself. It’s proven to be a great time to catch up with the extended Hogan clan and unwind before the long haul back to Atlanta. And if I’m lucky, I get to pack the cooler with enough leftover boiled crawfish to prepare one of the family’s favorite crawfish dinners or develop a new crawfish recipe or two. Well, I got lucky again this go-round and returned to my kitchen with enough crawfish to make a gratin to go with the Louisiana speckled trout fillets I had stashed in my freezer from our previous visit home. The pan-fried trout with this sassy seafood sauce is over-the-top. But it’s worth the splurge. Of course the Crawfish au Gratin ain’t too shabby on its own either, especially if you have plenty of warm French bread lying around.
Pan-Fried Trout with Crawfish au Gratin Recipe
2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for baking sheet
6 6- to 8-ounce skinless trout fillets
2 cups all purpose flour
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Crawfish au Gratin, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Lightly grease a large rimmed baking sheet with canola oil and place in oven to warm. Pat fish fillets dry and season with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt butter with canola oil. Once butter is melted, stir in lemon juice. Working in batches, dredge fillets in seasoned flour, shake off excess and fry, turning once, until crispy and golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer fried trout to prepared baking sheet and return to oven to keep warm. Serve fish with Crawfish au Gratin spooned over the top. Makes 6 servings.
Crawfish au Gratin Recipe
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups milk
1/2 heavy cream
1 1/4 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
1 pound cooked crawfish tails (thawed and drained, if frozen)
In a small bowl, thoroughly combine seasoning mix; set aside. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions, green onions and garlic and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add seasoning mix. Gradually whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly and vigorously until smooth. Add cream and continue whisking until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. Reduce heat to low and whisk in cheese. Continue whisking until melted. Stir in crawfish tails and cook until just heated through. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. If serving Crawfish Gratin on its own, distribute evenly among 6 lightly greased ramekins and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly, about 15 minutes. If serving as a topping for fish, remove from heat, cover and keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 6 servings.