One of the best parts of a crawfish boil is the day after – that’s when MawMaw would make crawfish bisque from the leftovers. It is a labor-intensive process the way MawMaw did it. It will take an entire day to prepare everything, but I divide the labor into two days. I’ll mention optional steps if you want to shorten the process.

Today I’ll show you day one of the process – the prep work.

This is the crawfish we had left over after a crawfish boil. I estimate this to be 12-15 pounds.

Let’s prepare to peel the crawfish. (Click here if you need instructions.) You will need two large containers – one for the shells, and one for the tails.

This is what I reaped from the leftover boiled crawfish: 2 lbs. of crawfish tails and a boatload of shells.

Next, I’ve separated the larger heads from the smaller heads and bodies. I have collected 60 larger heads in which I am going to stuff the crawfish dressing.

Optional Step: I’ll use the smaller heads and bodies to make a crawfish stock. To do that, I dump the shells into a large pot (depends on how many shells you have, for these I will use a 12-qt. pot), fill the pot with water (enough to exceed the shells by twice) and boil until the water is reduced by half. My 12 quarts of water will yield 6 quarts of stock. Just use water if you can’t expend this much time and energy on making a stock.

Now it’s time to clean out the heads to make room for the crawfish dressing.

Believe it or not, this is also an optional step. You can just roll the dressing into balls instead of stuffing shells. However, it is my opinion that crawfish bisque loses a lot of flavor without the shells. What’s the point of crawfish bisque without stuffed shells?!

Insert your thumb under the shell and pull down.

Run your thumb along the inside of the entire length of the shell to separate the insides from the shell.

Pull the insides off of the shell and bend off the pointed spines and eyes.

Here is the emptied shell which you will stuff later with crawfish dressing.

When you finish cleaning the heads, you need to remove a thin white membrane that covers the inside of the shell.

Scrape off the membrane with your finger. I do this under running water because the shell is rinsed as I’m working, but you could do it in the bowl of water and rinse the shells afterward.

Now you have 60 cleaned heads and 6 quarts of stock (if you chose to make a stock) and have completed the prep work for making a crawfish bisque.

Tomorrow we’ll make the bisque and stuff the shells – the fun part. Stay tuned!

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