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Crawfish Yvonne

Serves 6

Crawfish Yvonne does not appear on the menu (which regular customers advisedly ignore anyway; your waiter will steer you, reliably, to the fresh catch) but the kitchen always is happy to prepare it on request in crawfish season. The recipe is simple and superb; its secret is a base of what Galatoire’s, with New Orleanian eccentricity, calls ‘meuniere butter.’ This version makes six big, rich servings and is adapted from Galatoire’s Cookbook by Melvin Rodrigue (New York 2005):

-1 lb salted butter
-1 Tablespoon lemon juice
-1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
-6 cooked, sliced artichoke bottoms (canned are fine)
-1 lb sliced button mushrooms
-1 bunch (about 1 ½ cups) trimmed and chopped scallions (both whites and greens)
-2 lb crawfish tails
-1 Tablespoon mushroom ketchup (our addition)
-salt and white pepper
-minced parsley
-lemon wedges

  1. Make the meuniere butter by melting the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until its sediment turns deep brown, “almost (but not quite) to the point of burning.” You must whisk the butter continuously or burn it will.
  2. After about 10 minutes the liquid butter will appear a deep gold; remove the pan from the heat and slowly but immediately whisk the lemon juice and vinegar into the butter: “The sauce will froth until the acids have evaporated. When the frothing subsides, the sauce is complete.”
  3. Reserve 2/3-3/4 of the butter sauce (it will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator).
  4. Return the remaining butter sauce to medium heat until it is hot, then add the artichokes, mushrooms and scallions. Fry the vegetables until the mushrooms soften, then stir the crawfish and mushroom ketchup into the mixture.
  5. Cook the Yvonne just until the crawfish tails curl into tight coils, season with salt and white pepper, and serve immediately with a sprinkle of parsley.

Galatoire's Restaurant

Galatoire's (Photo copyright © Louis Sahuc)

More notes:

- Unusually for us at britishfoodinamerica, this recipe specifies salted, rather than unsalted, butter. We are following the lead of the original version.

- Quotations within the recipe appear at page 263 of Galatoire’s Cookbook.

- Crawfish or crabmeat Yvonne traditionally is served with rice or toast, or as a substantial garnish for fish or, at Galatoire’s, just about any grilled meat or bird. It is particularly good spooned over deep fried or sautéed soft shell crab.

- To make Crabmeat Yvonne, substitute good jumbo crabmeat for the crawfish; fold it carefully into the vegetables at step 3 so that it does not break down, and cook it briefly just to heat the crab through. Shrimp will work as well; add a generous teaspoon of garlic at the outset of step 4 and cook the shrimp, like the crawfish, until they coil. Half crawfish and half shrimp is good too.

- A variant of Crabmeat Yvonne appears in Galatoire’s: Biography of a Bistro by Marda Burton and Kenneth Holditch (Athens, GA 2004). It is not as good in substituting clarified for ‘mueniere’ butter and in overcooking the crab. It does, however, get the proportions right and include seasoning, unlike the sloppily edited Galatoire’s Cookbook, which calls for a whopping pound of butter and only half the crabmeat while omitting to mention the salt, white pepper and parsley.

- We like to Anglicize the dish slightly by substituting malt or sherry vinegar for wine vinegar; we particularly like the sherry vinegar with the crab.

- We have wondered in the lyrical why curried crawfish makes no appearance in British cookbooks and restaurants. Susan Spicer makes a delicious one that includes banana at Bayona, her legendary New Orleans restaurant, but, sadly, omits the recipe from her cookbook, Crescent City Cooking (New York 2007). A different delicious version, however, appears online at It is a typically western curry in omitting fresh ginger while using curry paste and diced apple; it is New Orleanian via the Caribbean in its incorporation of peanut oil, bell peppers, zucchini and pineapple juice.