Until I bought my first pound of Louisiana crawfish, my experience with the freshwater crustacean was limited to the Chinese-buffet steam table. Every time I walked by them at Super King, I added a couple to my plate of lomein and general tso’s - and every time I was disappointed. I would laboriously peel away the shell to find a measly, stringy piece of tail meat. Sure the flavor was good, but the tiny, overcooked morsel wasn’t worth the work.
But I didn’t write off crawfish completely. I wanted to like it since so many trusted friends sung its praises. I would watch Top Chef and see Padma and Tom Colicchio rip apart the small lobster-like bodies and enthusiastically suck the juice out of the head cavities. I knew with fresh crawfish and the right preparation, I too would be sucking on their dismembered heads with gusto.
My ‘aha’ moment came a few months ago when I tried biscuits with crawfish gravy. I was at the food symposium, Fire, Flour, Fork, and David Guas from Bayou Bakery was demonstrating how to prepare crawfish gravy for a crowd participants. Samples were distributed and the gravy was a revelation. It was everything I wanted crawfish to be: sweet, tender, and meaty. It finally clicked.
With a trip to my local fish market and a pound of shelled crawfish in hand, I set out to recreate the gravy at home. I was saving local Berkshire pork chops for a special meal, and I knew the naturally sweet crawfish would be killer on smoky grilled pork. I rounded out the meal with a big pot of buttery Woodson Mill grits (FYI - best grits I’ve ever had), which sopped up all the meaty juices and creamy gravy.
I’ve now joined the ranks of crawfish lovers. The moral of this story is don’t give up on a food just because you had a bad experience (or two, or ten). There will always be that dish that demonstrates the ingredient’s potential and shows us how delicious it can be. For me and crawfish, it was this delicious gravy.
Grilled Pork Chops with Crawfish Gravy
½ cup carrot diced
½ cup celery diced
½ cup onion diced
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 pound crawfish
3 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
4 Bone in Pork Chops
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add diced celery, onion, and carrot. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add crawfish and all juice from the package and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly pour in 3 cups of milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until the gravy has thickened – about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more seasoning if necessary.
Liberally season the bone-in pork chops with salt and pepper and grill until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chop is 135 degrees. Click here for a great pork chop grilling tutorial.
Serve pork chops over cooked grits, and top with crawfish gravy.