Sometimes I even amaze myself. Sound egotistical? It's not. What it means is, I SAY I'm going to do something - not remotely sure that I actually CAN do it - and then I actually pull it off. Wow. Who knew?
Such was the case of the Meatless Italian buffet that I promised my nearest and dearest on the occasion of my annual St. Patty's Day party. It was pretty terrific, if I do say so. There was my Caprice Salad/Antipasto platter, Roasted Veggies in garlic with Balsamic reduction drizzle, and, of course, Mamma's Baked Spaghetti. That was all good but the last-minute star of the show was Crawfish Alfredo Pesto Cream sauce. It was inspired. In fact, it was a miracle! Here it is:
CRAWFISH ALFREDO PESTO CREAM SAUCE
2 sticks of butter (OK, I'll give you a minute....)
1 cup all-purpose flour (added in steps)
3 quarts of half and half (OK, just breathe....and breathe....)
1 cup grated parmesan (or more, if you like)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup pesto sauce (homemade or jarred)
3 lbs of crawfish tails
Yeah, I know, is this a recipe or a death scentence. Well, let's just say, you wouldn't want to eat this every day. So, first melt the butter - careful not to burn it. Then, add the flour - first a half cup and stir it into the butter. Then a little at a time until it's the consistency of, say, apple sauce. You want a creamy paste of butter and flour. Now stir this over medium-low heat until it starts to bubble a bit. Keep stirring. This is great work for a 9 year old - especially one with a cute little apron on. After about 5 minutes of bubbling, start whisking in the half and half. It will be 'gloppy' at first but just keep whisking. (They don't teach "gloppy" at le Cordon Bleu, y'all!) Add all 3 quarts gradually. (Did I mention that you need a big, thick-bottomed pot? Do I have to explain that too much of this will make YOU thick-bottomed?) Now let this go on medium heat, stirring regularly (not constantly) to check the thickness. It will thicken as it approaches reaching a boil - but don't let it boil. If it gets too thick, add some milk - a little at a time. Now, add the cheese, nutmeg (trust me, will ya?) and pesto. Stir.
Sneak a taste. Good huh?
Keep stirring till it reaches the thickness you like. Finally, remove the crawfish tails from the package into a saute pan. Saute them over medium heat until they release all the extra liquid inherent in those packages. You don't want to just add them to your cream sauce straight from the package because all that extra liquid will thin out the sauce. After you've sauteed the tails for five or so minutes, add them to your cream sauce pot using a slotted spoon to do so. You should wind up with a saute pan full of crawfish juice. You can throw it away or freeze it to use later. Now stir the tails into your cream sauce and let the whole thing heat up over medium-low heat.
Serve this over - basically - anything you'd like: pasta, toast points, heck, an old shoe would taste good with THIS liquid gold poured over it! I served it over my mamma's baked spaghetti and it was divine! In fact, at my party, one friend was eating it like soup. You could do that too.
And so, it was a St. Patty's Day miracle, when the Irish-Cajun girl whipped up an Italian-Cajun sauce for her French, Scottish, Polish, Irish, Italian, Chinese and Phillipino guests. I'm feelin' all "Bennetton" all of a sudden. C'mon, everybody sing...."We are the world....."
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