Southern Crayfish Ragoût with Goat Cheese Grits

Patrick McCandless

St. Charles Exchange - Louisville, KY

For a souped-up take on shrimp and grits, chef Patrick McCandless brings in meaty crayfish tails and jumpstarts the whole dish with spoonfuls of hot sauce.


  • Crayfish Ragoût:
  • 3/4 cup diced slab bacon
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 pounds crayfish tails
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Frank’s brands
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Goat Cheese Grits:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup grits
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped herbs, such as parsley, thyme, or rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Make the ragoût: in a large pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes. Add the green peppers, red peppers, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Sauté until translucent, about 12 minutes. Add the white wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 2 minutes.

Add the crayfish tails, heavy cream, half-and-half, Worcestershire, hot sauce, black pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Simmer until the crayfish tails are cooked through and the soup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm while you make the grits.

Make the grits: heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until soft and browned, about 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, cream, and water; bring to a boil. Slowly add the grits, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and gently cook, stirring often, until the grits are cooked through and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the goat cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper.

To serve, divide the grits among serving bowls. Top each serving with some crayfish ragoût.


4 to 6 servings