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Lobster in Miniature
Crawfish, or ecravisse, has never been very popular in San Francisco, probably because there are so many other delicate crustaceans that are more easily handled, yet the crawfish grows to perfection in Pacific waters, and importation's of them from Portland, Oregon, are becoming quite an industry. So far it has been used mostly for garnishment of other dishes, and it is only recently that the Hof Brau has been making a specialty of them. All of the better class restaurants, however, will serve them if you order them.
The full flavor of the crawfish is best obtained in a bisque, and the best recipe for this is by the famous chef Francatelli, who boasts having been the head of the cuisine of Queen Victoria. His recipe is long, and its preparation requires much patience, but the result is such a gastronomic marvel that one never regrets the time spent in its accomplishment. This is the recipe for eight people, and it is well worth trying if you are giving a dinner of importance:
Bisque of Crawfish
Take thirty crawfish, from which remove the gut containing the gall in the following manner: Take firm hold of the crawfish with the left hand so as to avoid being pinched by its claws; with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand pinch the extreme end of the central fin of the tail, and, with a sudden jerk, the gut will be withdrawn.
Mince or cut into small dice a carrot, an onion, one head of celery and a few parsley roots, and to these add a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a little minionette pepper and two ounces of butter. Put these ingredients into a stewpan and fry them ten minutes, then throw in the crawfish and pour on them half a bottle of French white wine. Allow this to boil and then add a quart of strong consommé and let all continue boiling for half an hour. Pick out the crawfish and strain the broth through a napkin by pressure into a basin in order to extract all the essence from the vegetables.
Pick the shells off twenty-five of the crawfish tails, trim them neatly and set them aside until wanted. Reserve some of the spawn, also half of the body shells with which to make the crawfish butter to finish the soup. This butter is made as follows: Place the shells on a baking sheet in the oven to dry; let the shells cool and then pound them in a mortar with a little lobster coral and four ounces of fresh butter, thoroughly bruising the whole together so as to make a fine paste. Put this in a stewpan and set it over a slow fire to simmer for about five minutes, then rub it through a sieve with considerable pressure into a basin containing ice water. As soon as the colored crawfish butter is become firmly set, through the coldness of the water, take it out and put it into a small basin and set in the refrigerator until wanted.
Reverting to the original recipe: Take the remainder of the crawfish and add thereto three anchovies, washed for the purpose, and also the crusts of French rolls, fried to a light brown color in butter. Pound all these thoroughly together and then put them into a stewpan with the broth that has been reserved in a basin, and having warmed the bisque thus prepared rub it through a sieve into a fine puree. Put this puree into a soup pot and finish by incorporating therewith the crawfish butter and season with a little cayenne pepper and the juice of half a lemon. Pour the bisque quite hot into the tureen in which have been placed the crawfish tails, and send to the table.
This is not so difficult as it appears when you are reading it and if you wish to have something extra fine take the necessary time and patience and prepare it.