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Crawfish Cardinale

The most famous and best crawfish dish at Antoine’s is, like many of their dishes, an adaptation of something else on the menu. In this case, it’s crawfish mariniere with a bit of what they call “tomato sauce,” but which I’m almost certain is actually ketchup. This recipe duplicates the dish closely, then adds a couple of other flavors I like with crawfish (the tarragon, chervil, and dill, all optional).

If you buy peeled crawfish tails (which may be all you will find right now, although that situation should improve in the next few weeks) they will already be boiled. The dish is better with crawfish you peeled yourself, if you have that choice.

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. brandy
  • 1 cup half-and-half, warmed
  • 2 Tbs. bottled chili sauce or ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chervil
  • 1/2 tsp. dill
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups boiled crawfish tails

1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a saucepan until it bubbles, then stir in the flour and make a light roux. Stir constantly until the texture changes, but don’t allow the roux to brown.

2. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Then lower the heat to the lowest setting and stir in the brandy. After about a minute, add the warmed half-and-half, and whisk until the sauce thickens. Add all the other ingredients except the crawfish and simmer, stirring once or twice, for about two minutes.

3. Fill ramekins or small au gratin dishes loosely with crawfish tails. Top with 3 Tbs. of the sauce. Place the dishes into a preheated 400-degree oven. When the sauce begins to bubble and brown at the edges, the dish is done. Serve immediately. Make sure French bread is on the table to help get the sauce.

Serves four to six.