Crawfish Boudin Fritters
Big Jones, Chicago
"I don’t know when the Cajuns got creative with boudin, using base ingredients other than pork, but I think I actually prefer crawfish boudin over pork. In Cajun country, boudin is most often stuffed in natural hog casings, and to eat it you break the casing and squeeze the filling out, either directly into your mouth, or onto a plate to eat like rice dressing. For more proper occasions or to serve as finger food at parties, boudin is sometimes shaped into balls and deep fried, the inspiration for this preparation.
Please only use American crawfish. Most domestic crawfish is from Louisiana, and that’s what we use at Big Jones. If you see the imported stuff, pass it over and change plans. Friends don’t let friends eat imported crawfish." – Paul Fehribach
Adapted from The Big Jones Cookbook (University of Chicago Press, 2015)
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil plus 2 to 3 quarts for frying
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
- 1 pound crawfish tail meat, coarsely chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1 pound dried French bread crumbs
Make the rice: cook the rice in 3 cups of water in a 2-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and have it hot and at the ready to make the boudin.
Make the boudin: in a 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over high heat until smoking, then add the onions and the garlic. Working quickly and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, sauté the vegetables for no more than 2 minutes to sweat them well but avoid browning the onions.
Add the salt, black and cayenne peppers, green onions, and crawfish. Sauté the mixture until the crawfish renders a bit, giving up its liquid to the pot. Turn off the heat and stir for a few moments more. Fluff the cooked rice with the tines of a fork, and then add it to the pot, stirring well to combine. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the rice into the crawfish a bit until everything begins sticking together like a rice dressing, but don’t overdo it—you want a nice rice grain for the finished dish, not a mushy mess.
Transfer the mixture to a cookie sheet with edges or a jelly roll pan, and spread it out so that it’s 1-inch thick. Let cool for 30 minutes, uncovered. Then cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight before breading and frying.
Make the fritters: use a small ice cream scoop to shape the boudin into balls of about 3 tablespoons each. Gently roll the balls between the palms of your hands to smooth them on all sides, and place them on a cookie sheet with plenty of space between each ball.
In a 2-quart mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a wire whisk until frothy and then whisk in the water. Fill a 9- or 10-inch pie pan with bread crumbs, and hold any extra bread crumbs in reserve.
Roll each ball first in bread crumbs, and gently roll between your palms again to work in the bread crumbs; then roll it in the egg wash, wetting all the sides, and then roll it in the bread crumbs again. Roll a little more firmly after the second dip in bread crumbs, using your fingers and palms to finalize the shape of the fritter. Return the breaded balls to the cookie sheet and continue until all have been breaded, then refrigerate the pan, covered loosely with plastic wrap, until you are ready to fry.
Fry the fritters: use a home deep-fryer or a 4-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with a digital clip-on thermometer for frying. Fill the pot with 3 inches of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to 325°F, watching the temperature closely to maintain as close to this temperature as possible.
Gently drop the boudin balls in the oil a few at a time, making sure there is plenty of space between each ball—don’t overcrowd or they may not brown evenly. Turn the balls occasionally while cooking. Fry them for 5 to 6 minutes, until they are a deep rich golden-brown color. Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Keep the finished fritters in a low-temperature oven while you fry any remaining fritters. Serve them hot with spicy rémoulade.
15 to 20 fritters