My in-laws the Boyer’s, Clayton and Jeannette, who have made this for us on many special occasions, handed down this recipe to me the last time we visited New Orleans in 2008. The last time the whole family was in Who Dat Nation, we were celebrating Bryan’s high school graduation and in May, this is perfect crawfish season. Typically, live crawfish are used to make this bisque, which, I must say is one of the most time consuming recipes at home, Clayton and Jeannette can attest to that, he said it was the last time he was making this one, but we have heard him say that before!
With lent just around the corner starting on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17, 2010), the day after Mardi Gras, seafood becomes a huge sell for restaurants, seafood markets, and grocery stores. Moreover, live crawfish start coming into season soon too, with cooler temperatures still in the air, this bisque is a real treat and event to make as well.
If you cannot get live crawfish in your area, I have seen some whole boiled and frozen crawfish sold in 10 or 15-pound bags in some grocery seafood departments. Some Internet seafood houses out of the Gulf Coast also will ship live crawfish, yet it is quite expensive. If you cannot get them in the shell, however, frozen crawfish tails can also be found in many seafood markets, but the stuffed heads will have to be omitted, as in this traditional recipe. In addition, the crawfish fat will be eliminated if not getting the live crawfish, some flavor will be lost, but tail meat typically does have a little of the fat included.
Still, stuffed heads or not, this recipe is fantastic. You can substitute making crawfish balls with the stuffing portion of the recipe and adding them to the bisque, but you have to be careful they do not break apart. However, adding the crawfish balls at the time of service would eliminate this issue.
A few ingredients not found in the original recipe, but that I added is the brandy and heavy cream. Most great bisques that I have had the pleasure of tasting typically are finished with a bit of brandy and cream. Therefore, I have included these two ingredients for finishing this bisque as well.