Sep 1, 2015

Cajun Crawfish Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Crawfish are in peak season in early-March through mid-June and while that it the best time to find fresh crawfish, frozen crawfish bodies can be found at many specialty seafood shops.

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Crawfish are in peak season in early-March through mid-June and while that it the best time to find fresh crawfish, frozen crawfish bodies can be found at many specialty seafood shops.

The Cajun spices added to the roux give the sauce a bit of a kick while the combination of mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan give the sauce a creamy consistency. When whisking the cheeses into the roux mixture, be careful not to cook the cheeses in at too high a heat or for too long, it will become stringy and there is no easy fix.

This is #notsponsored by any Cajun spice brand in particular, I just favor Slap Ya Mama because my family has been using it for years! I love the blend of red pepper, black pepper, salt and garlic.

Cajun Crawfish Mac and Cheese

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Crawfish – This recipe is a great way to utilize leftovers from a traditional Southern crawfish boil though many seafood markets also sell frozen whole crawfish bodies which come pre-peeled to cut down on any prep work. Crawfish are small crustaceans similar in flavor to shrimp or lobster.
  • Seasonings – I use a Cajun spice blend, Slap Ya Mama made with a blend of red pepper, salt pepper and garlic and enhance it with cayenne and paprika.
  • Cheese – This recipe has a combination of three cheeses: Parmesan, provolone and mozzarella. As a result this mac and cheese recipe has a mild flavor so the crawfish and spices can shine. Both provolone and mozzarella are great, melty cheeses giving you that ideal cheese pull.
  • Roux – The base of this cheese sauce is a roux made from fat (in this case butter) and flour. Cooking the flour in the butter cuts any gritty flour flavor and works to thicken the sauce.
  • Seafood stock – Seafood stock, also called fish stock, is made from simmering the shells of lobster, shrimp, crab shells or other fish bones with white wine and other aromatics. I often buy seafood stock though you can easily make your own – especially if you cook whole lobsters for this recipe. 
cajun crawfish mac and cheese recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

How to Make Crawfish Mac and Cheese

  1. Sauté the onion. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cayenne, paprika and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine.
  2. Make the roux. Whisk in the flour and let cook, continuing to whisk frequently until the mixture is golden brown. Add the milk, whisking to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the Parmesan, provolone and mozzarella until completely combined. Season to taste with salt and keep warm over low heat.
  3. Make the crawfish mixture. Set aside ½ cup of the crawfish. In a blender combine the  remaining crawfish with ¼ cup of the seafood stock and pulse until the crawfish is minced but not pureed. Stir in the crawfish mixture into the cheese sauce.
  4. Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot with the remaining seafood stock and water to the boil; salt the water and bring back to a boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Before draining, set aside about one cup of the cooking water.
  5. Combine the sauce and pasta. Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and stir to combine and evenly coat the noodles with the sauce. If the sauce begins to get too clumpy, add some of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time.
  6. Serve. To serve, ladle into warm pasta bowls and top with the remaining crawfish, green onions and parsley.
cajun crawfish mac and cheese recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Cajun Crawfish Mac and Cheese

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I use Slap Ya Mama™)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded provolone
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 pound frozen crawfish bodies, divided
  • cups seafood stock, divided
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • ¾ pound fusilli pasta
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the cayenne, paprika and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine.
  • Whisk in the flour and let cook, continuing to whisk frequently until the mixture is golden brown. Add the milk, whisking to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the Parmesan, provolone and mozzarella until completely combined. Season to taste with salt and keep warm over low heat.
  • Set aside ½ cup of the crawfish. In a blender combine the  remaining crawfish with ¼ cup of the seafood stock and pulse until the crawfish is minced but not pureed. Stir in the crawfish mixture into the cheese sauce.
  • Bring a large pot with the remaining seafood stock and water to the boil; salt the water and bring back to a boil. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 10 minutes. Before draining, set aside about one cup of the cooking water.
  • Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and stir to combine and evenly coat the noodles with the sauce. If the sauce begins to get too clumpy, add some of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time.
  • To serve, ladle into warm pasta bowls and top with the remaining crawfish, green onions and parsley.

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