“Money can’t bayou love but it can bayou crawfish!”
Once about every two or three years I come across a recipe that, as soon as I taste the results, I think to myself, this is my new “go to recipe”; Crawfish Monica Florentine is definitely such a recipe!
One of the signature dishes at the annual New Orleans Jazz Fest, Crawfish Monica is a Louisiana food tradition. Ingredients include pasta (often rotini), crawfish tail meat, onion, garlic, creole seasoning, cream, wine, salt, pepper, and butter. The dish was created in the mid-1980s by chef Pierre Hilzim who was the head of Kajun Kettle Foods. He named it after his wife Monica Davidson. Click Here to see an interesting 2007 article about the history of Crawfish Monica that appeared in the New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune.
From the diner’s perspective, I love this recipe for its buttery, savory taste … from the cook’s perspective, it is one of my favorites because it is so adaptable to substitutions and added ingredients while still remaining a delectable dish. So, if you don’t eat shellfish then use chicken, if you don’t like onions then use shallots, want to add some healthy color … add spinach like I did! As Justin Wilson would say, “I Guarontee” you will like this recipe so give it a try.
If using frozen, packaged crawfish tails, thaw them and drain. Set aside. (Note - some recipes say don't drain ... I'll try it that way and let you know!)
Cook the pasta per the package instructions until Al Dente (personally, I prefer more tender). Then, drain & rinse under cool water and set aside reserving a cup of the pasta water. (Note – If you have it available in your pantry, add a tablespoon of Zatarain’s concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil liquid to the pasta water … that will flavor the pasta and the reserve water should you have to use it!)
In a large sauté pan melt the butter. Add the chopped shallots and cook for 2-4 minutes until translucent.
Add the minced garlic and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in the Creole Seasoning and Cayenne Pepper.
Add the white wine and whisk. Then, slowly mix in the cream and lemon juice and whisk into the mixture.
Add the crawfish tails into the sauce and stir for 3-4 minutes until bubbling.
Add the grated Parmesan cheese and stir well until melted. Once the cheese is melted, add the chopped parsley and toss in the spinach leaves. Cook & stir another 3-5 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir/toss to combine. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add some pasta water to thin the mixture.
Continue stirring for 5 minutes over low heat. Remove and serve immediately with hot, crusty garlic bread.