Last Updated on June 16, 2020 by Chef Mireille
Crawfish Mac and Cheese
This Crawfish Mac and Cheese with three cheeses is the perfect decadent dish for any special occasion. Celebrate Juneteenth with this NOLA soul food!
I am honoring Juneteenth for the first time this year by presenting this soul food recipe.
What is Juneteenth?
Although Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation 2 1/2 years prior, there were still enslaved people in America. Down in Texas, the slaves did not know they were free.
It took Union soldiers to go to Texas to enforce the Proclamation and grant freedom to the slaves there. It was on June 19th, 1865 when all enslaved people in America were FINALLY granted their freedom.
The Definition of Soul Food
I had a really interesting conversation with some other black food bloggers last week on this topic.
Since I am a first generation American with parents from the Caribbean and not growing up in the South, I actually have very little reference to soul food. Therefore, I went to some people who have multi generational roots in America.
It was really interesting as they had different definitions of soul food. Some say it is the slave descended cuisine of the rural South, characterized by cheap ingredients and a mostly Vegetarian diet. These were the ingredients that they were given to make use out of for their own meals.
Some say it is any food of the African diaspora including African, Caribbean and some South American foods.
Some say it is Southern food, although with Caribbean influences as free Haitians started immigrating to New Orleans, a French colony at the time, since the 1800’s.
Then one blogger who has multi generational roots in the northeastern United States calls the foods of his ancestors soul food, although the foods are very different from the southern soul food.
Some books were recommended to me like Soul Food and The Gift of Southern Cooking, but with this large variety of interpretations, I think the definition is subjective.
To me, it’s about honoring the African descended people who came to America and highlighting their contributions to American cuisine.
What is your definition of soul food? Let me know in the comments below!
Now let’s talk a little about crawfish…
What is crawfish?
So how does this Caribbean girl who grew up in NYC know about crawfish? Well, when I went to college at the University of New Mexico, one of my roommates was from New Orleans.
Every time she came back from a visit home, we would have crawfish chips and beignet mix and all of the foods and snacks that characterize NOLA cuisine!
In our student apartments, we had a kitchen. We were both foodies and she taught me how to make a lot of the foods that New Orleans is known for like Gumbo and Jambalaya.
Louisiana, like the low country cooking of South Carolina and Georgia, is known for their love of water animals. It’s swampland, so seafood, alligators, turtles, frogs are all featured in the cuisine of this region.
Check out this Restaurant Review of Narobia’s from my trip to Savannah to learn more on Low Country cooking! CLICK ON BUTTON BELOW!
Crawfish are crustaceans and basically look like mini lobsters, about the size of your pinky finger.
They are hard to come by here in NYC, so when I saw a package at the supermarket a few weeks ago, I was so excited I purchased it and then just put it in my freezer until I decided what I was going to make with them.
My package was of whole crawfish, which does not generate a lot of meat, since the only meat is in the tails. However, I used the flavor from the heads to make a crawfish broth that the macaroni was then boiled in.
If you can get a package of crawfish tails, you will get a lot more meat to add into this Three Cheese Crawfish Mac and Cheese!
Even without a lot of crawfish meat, the flavor that was put into this Mac & Cheese is amazing! You definitely get the crustacean flavor in every bite!
So creamy and luscious with three cheeses!
Three Cheese Crawfish Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb. crawfish
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 oz. macaroni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 small onion chopped
- ½ bell pepper chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cups cheddar cheese grated
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese grated
- 1 cup provolone cheese grated
- 2 teaspoons blackened seasoning
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 1 ½ tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons grated cheese any combination of cheeses from above
- Shell the crawfish, removing the meat. Save the shells and heads.
- Combine crawfish shells and heads with 8 cups of water in a pot.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. See notes.
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Strain crawfish heads, etc. and reserve crawfish stock.
- You should end up with about 4 cups of crawfish stock. Add additional water, if necessary to make 4 cups.
- Bring the 4 cups of stock to a boil with the salt.
- Add macaroni and cook until al dente.
- Strain, reserving cooking liquid.
- Toss macaroni with olive oil.
- In a pot, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.
- Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and celery.
- Saute until softened.
- Add flour and cook on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, to cook out the raw taste of the flour.
- Add milk and heavy cream. Simmer on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until thickened.
- Turn off heat and add cheese, crawfish, blackened seasoning and chives. Stir to combine.
- Add ½ cup of reserved cooking liquid. Stir to combine.
- Transfer to square baking dish sprayed with non stick spray.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons of cheese on top.
- Transfer to oven and bake for 25 minutes.
DO YOU YUM? SAVE IT BELOW!Yum
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Oh, sweet baby Jesus in a manger this mac and cheese was epically divine! Yes to the flavors of the Gulf!
Yes the cuisine of the Gulf States has such amazing spices and flavor. Glad you enjoyed it!
Absolutely delicious! Next time we have a get together I’m making it again!
Yes it’s great for a crowd or any party!
This is the most decadent mac & cheese and the recipe is spot on.
thanks – I am sure you will love it!
Erika | Black Girls Who Brunch
I’m here for this! I live in Houston and we love to put crawfish in just about anything. It sounds delicious in mac and cheese!
you are so lucky you can get crawfish anytime you want. Here it is so hard to come by!
OMG YUM! I love crawfish and the flavors in this mac and cheese are perfect!
Thanks – who can resist a good mac and cheese right!
I do not use crawfish enough, I am glad you put it in this dish. It sure will be so flavorful
Yes – If I lived in an area where crawfish was readily available, I would utilize it so much more!
Macaroni and cheese is one my favorite dishes so this is a must try for me.
I’m sure you are going to love this version!
Chef, this is the recipe I NEED for my summer plans!
Well I’m here to please. I’m glad it came at just the right time for you!
Yes Lord! This dish is decadent and filling. Perfect for a week night or special occasion.
definitely a party pleaser for special occasions!