New Orleans Jazz Fest- and a Recipe for Crawfish Monica, sort of…
Today I sit and write this between the two weekends of New Orleans’ Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Some go for the big name rock acts – like last year – a record was set because of those who came to see Elton John. Some – like me – go and mostly hang out in the Jazz Tent all weekend. If you’re a jazz fan you can’t beat this. I’ve seen some of the biggest names in jazz in this fairly intimate setting.
I’ve heard some say they go just for the food. The entry fee is a little steep for that, IMO, but there is a vast array of food vendors selling all sorts of tasty treats. Last year, I sampled the Crawfish Enchiladas (a new favorite which I’ll have to try my hand at one of these days) – twice in one weekend. Yes, they were that good. And in previous years I’ve checked out the plate with Catfish Meuniere, Eggplant and Crabmeat Dressing and a Crab Cake several times. Many people say their favorite dish is the Crawfish Monica (a recipe their creators guard very closely), a creamy pasta and crawfish dish that made its name at Jazz Fest, and has become iconic in New Orleans. It’s a little on the mundane side to me (apologies to all of you fans out there), so I’ve created my own similar dish with the addition of shiitake mushrooms and a touch of tomato paste.
While you’re cooking, please enjoy the video clip below of a bit of Dianne Reeves, one of my very all-time favorite singers (who, btw, I’ve seen a few times at Jazz Fest) offer her rendition of Bob Marley’s I Don’t Want to Wait in Vain. She’s accompanied by Christian McBride’s Jazz Orchestra. It was Mr. McBride’s set, and he had a number of special friends, besides Ms. Reeves, drop in to perform with him.
- 8-9 medium shiitake mushrooms
- 8 scallions, white and green parts
- 1/2 pound peeled and cooked crawfish tails
- 5-6 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons Mutti Italian Double Concentrate Tomato Paste 4.5 oz. Tube
- 1 tablespoon Seafood Magic, or other Louisiana seafood spice blend
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 pound fusilli pasta
- Cook the fusilli in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender to the bite.
- Heat half the butter in a large sauté pan until bubbling. Add the mushrooms and the white part of the scallions to the pan, and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the mushrooms are just cooked. Then remove them from the pan and reserve.
- Add the rest of the butter to the pan, When the butter is bubbling, add the crawfish tails, the tomato paste and Seafood Magic to the pan, and toss them in the butter for about 1 minute, until the tomato paste and spices are incorporated. Add the cream and half and half, then add the mushrooms and sautéed scallions. Bring to a simmer then reduce the heat just to keep the sauce warm, as the fusillli continues to cook.
- Drain the fusilli in a colander, then add it to the crawfish sauce, tossing well. Sprinkle the green parts of the scallions over the pasta, and serve immediately.