Happy Pie Day!
Just in case anyone didn’t get the memo, today is National Pie Day. How fun is that?! Let the pie making begin. The first, and most difficult, part is trying to decide what pies to make. Yes, plural pies. So is it to be savory? Sweet? A tart? Free-form? Big, little or tiny? All of the above? So many pies, so little time!
After much agonizing, I’ve finally narrowed it down to…all of the above and it all starts with the crust; Michael Ruhlman’s 3-2-1 Pie Crust, that is. There are two gallons of local blueberries that I froze last summer that are just screaming to be made into a pie so I think I’ll listen to the voices, make some vanilla custard to pour over them then brûlée it. Fun with fire!
Now that dessert is in the oven it’s time to get down to business.
Whenever we make it back to New Orleans we come back with things we can’t get in middle Tennessee. Even though crawfish are not generally considered a local food in Nashville, I still think of them as part of my local foodscape since that’s what I grew up with. Boiled crawfish have been part of life for as long as I can remember but Crawfish Pie made it’s appearance a little later in my life thanks to a kickass recipe of my Dad’s. It gets rave reviews from everyone lucky enough to get some! I’ve tweaked it a little to take advantage of more local products but all of the kudos go to him. Thanks Dad!
Yield 2 pies
6 T unsalted butter
9 T flour
2 ½ C milk
Melt butter over medium heat, whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook until very thick.
3 C finely chopped onion
2 C finely chopped celery
¾ C finely chopped bell pepper
1 T minced garlic
½ C thinly sliced green onions
2 T unsalted butter
2 T olive oil
1/3 C white wine
4 T tomato paste (or 1-1 ½ C homemade tomato sauce)
½ C chopped parsley
1-2 t Kosher salt, depending on your taste and how salty your crawfish are
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t soy sauce (gotta get that umami in there!)
1½-2 C dried bread crumbs
2-12 oz packs of peeled crawfish tails, rinsed and coarsely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
2 C milk
2 9-inch pie crusts
Place butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan. When hot, add onions, celery and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add garlic and green onions. Cook 2-3 minutes then add wine. Cook until reduced by more than half. If using homemade tomato sauce, add it now and reduce liquid until it’s almost gone. If using tomato paste, add it then add the salt, pepper, cayenne, parsley, Worcestershire and soy sauces. Stir in the béchamel, crawfish tails and 1 ½ C bread crumbs. Mix well, remove from heat then add milk and eggs.
This mixture should be thick. If it looks soupy, add more bread crumbs; it should be thick enough to mound slightly.
Pour into two 9 or 10 inch pie crusts and bake at 350° for about 40 minutes. It should still have a little jiggle to it but not look wet. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
The filling freezes beautifully so I always make extra. Just defrost in the refrigerator then pour into prepared pie crust and bake.
Confession time: I am pie crust impaired. This was the best tasting pie crust I have ever made. I used vegetable shortening for about 1/3 of the fat. It was tender and delicious but it rose a lot and took quite a while to brown. Maybe I didn’t roll it out thin enough? I’m sure it was operator error and with more practice (and there will be more!) I think I’ll finally get the hang of it. I still think I can call it a success even if my fluted crust doesn’t look so fluted. This was a 10-inch deep-dish pan that held six cups of filling and this is what’s left from four hungry pie lovers:
Oh me! Oh my! Love that crawfish pie!