Fresh, local ingredients are key to this popular crawfish dish
Crawfish Monica is a popular dish in the coastal region of East Texas and Louisiana. The dish is the creation of Chef Pierre Hilzim, who named it after his wife, Monica Davidson. Such publications as The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times and The London Times have raved about the signature dish of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, where it has been served for more than 35 years. In fact, the festival is the only place you can get the original dish, which is one of the biggest sellers.
It’s easier to make than its étouffée cousin, yet is amazingly tasty.
Quality Crawfish Monica is all about the ingredients. When making this dish, use the best ingredients available — top-shelf butter, the freshest vegetables, a high-grade pasta and crawfish tails from Texas or Louisiana.
It’s best if you have leftover tails from a boil, but quality frozen tails work well. A quick word on frozen tails: Many companies import crawfish. Imported crawfish has a different texture and flavor and isn’t as good. Buying local is the best bet for this recipe. Hilzim and family are protective of the trademarked recipe, but variations like this one hit the spot.
1 pound pasta (fettuccine, linguine, rotini, penne or farfalle)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick butter (no margarine)
2 sweet onions, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons Cajun/Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup white wine
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pound crawfish tails
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Follow package directions. Drain, reserving ¼ to ½ cup of cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot and toss with olive oil and ¼ cup of cooking liquid. Cover to keep warm.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, Cajun seasoning, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring for one minute. Add the white wine and cook over high heat until nearly evaporated.
Reduce heat to medium, add the cream and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced.
Add the crawfish tails and let warm through. Add the green onions and parsley and cook for a minute. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat with the sauce and warmed through.
Remove from heat and mix in ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Turn out into a serving bowl and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve.
Garnish dish with chopped parsley or green onions.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.