Tom Stearns’ crawfish boil

“Come here,” Tom Stearns enthuses as I arrive at his annual Crawfish Boil. “I have a photo op for you!”

A photo op. This isn’t going to be good. Tom and I, friends for years, have a good-natured food competition going on. He sends me photos of what he’s eating when he’s on the road knowing full well I’m having cereal for supper. Sometimes five or six photos per meal.

I haven’t taken a photo of myself with my Big Green Egg yet, but it’s on the agenda just because I know he doesn’t have one.

So I am devastated when I round the corner of his garage to see a professional crawfish cooker. Dammit.

“I didn’t need it,” he admitted. “I just wanted it.”

I understand that logic. Why cook crawfish in a turkey frying pot when you can boil them in this wonder machine with a giant shute that sends the cooked mudbugs hurtling toward a waiting cooler in a magnificent rush of bright red. And tiny black soul-less eyes staring back at you. But we won’t talk about that.

And it comes with a giant paddle. Dang it. A giant paddle! I want a giant paddle if just to prop in the corner to say I own one, too.

So I have to admit, I looked up the price of the thing on the Academy Sports website. Four hundred dollars. Four hundred smackers compared with a pot that he already owned. But, again, I get it. King Daddy bought me my $1,000 Big Green Egg to replace my El Cheapo Brinkmann smoker that cost $149 with modifications.

The crawfish were delicious. There was a groaning board of lots of food at the party, but I only had eyes for the tiny soul-less black peepers staring vacantly at me from my plate. I looked away as I violently twisted each tiny tail from the poor creatures’ bodies, sucked the head and downed the meat. To the victor goes the spoils, even if the defeated are four inches long.

Tom sent me home with two gallon bags of crawfish. They were for King Daddy but I stole them for myself. Before K.D. got home, I took all the crawfish meat out of the shells, made a stock with the heads and popped it all into the freezer in the junk room. K.D. never looks in that freezer. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

In the next few months, I will make a crawfish and shrimp pasta. This is the recipe I’m going to use. And I will text a photo of it to Tom. Maybe standing next to my Big Green Egg. With my $100 Thermapin in my hand (I don’t think he has that, either). And that should do it. Unless he’s on the road in New Orleans. Dang it.

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