After a crawfish boil, there aren’t usually many leftovers.
“It’s very rare,” said Lauren Alleman, 33, of Gonzales.
But if it happens, Alleman wants to be ready.
She and her husband joined chef Colt Patin’s class on leftover crawfish at the Louisiana Culinary Institute and learned how to make crawfish pizza, pasta, pie and cornbread.
“Crawfish is always popular,” Patin said. “At my house, we always had crawfish left over. As a chef, I want to be creative on different ways to make it.”
Patin teaches a quick crawfish etouffee recipe that forms the foundation of several dishes. Of the eight students, a couple were comfortable throwing a roux together for the etouffee, but others feared the oil and flour-base.
“A lot of people are intimidated by roux,” Patin said. “They’re scared. Chef Paul Prudhomme calls it Cajun napalm. A little bit of it gets on your skin and burns you. It’s simple. It’s fat and flour.”
Visiting Louisiana from Montana while her husband worked a construction project, Kim Wallila, 52, had never tried making any Cajun food.
“We fell in love with the food down here,” she said. “I wanted to learn how to make some things so I could make it for my friends and family.”
In her first attempt, Wallila created a good etouffee, but she thought it tasted a little salty, so Patin showed her how to add a little water and continue cooking it to cut the sodium. Her next challenge will be finding crawfish back home in Montana.
After finishing the etouffee, Patin directed the students to set it aside to make pizza dough for the crawfish etouffee pizza, made with the etouffee, cheese and green onions.
Using the etouffee in a few dishes ensures the thick Cajun stew-like dish goes fast.
Patin wants to use it within a couple of days. Etouffee, he cautioned the class, does not freeze well.
“It kind of breaks down,” he said. “When you defrost it and try to heat it, it’s going to look a little broken. It separates on you. You can stir it back together. It’s not the most eye appealing, but it’s still going to taste good.”
Other than the pizza, the etouffee was used in a crawfish pie made with a puff pastry available at most grocery stores.
The fettuccine dish was put together using the etouffee, some heavy whipping cream and a few pats of butter — “more butter makes it better,” Patin said.
Working alongside her grandmother, 15-year-old Kaitlyn Fundling, of Hammond, was excited to learn the basics of traditional Cajun cooking.
“Since we eat a lot of crawfish, just learning all the different things, different variations, it’s good,” she said.
With a few crawfish tails that didn’t go into the etouffee, Patin showed off one of his favorite treats — crawfish cornbread. Starting by sauteing bell pepper with butter, the chef showed them how to make a cornbread mix the hard way, but he is not above taking some shortcuts.
“At home I cheat,” Patin said. “I love Jiffy.”
Some of the dishes were restaurant favorites that Kelly Streckfus, 38, of Hammond, didn’t expect to make at home.
“It’s easy,” she said. “It’s a lot easier than I thought. We’ll make them.”
Each student left with to-go containers full of food and enough recipes to get them through the next family crawfish boil and the day after.