When I'm cooking a thanksgiving meal, I prefer not to make the normal, traditional stuff. Maybe it's a result of some bad experiences with turkey growing up, but for some reason I equate the normal thanksgiving meal with drinking water while eating turkey that's way too dry. I've also never really liked that thanksgiving is a "put a dollop of ten dishes on your plate" kind of meal. I'd rather have one cohesive meal that complements itself well.
A few years ago, we reached out to the Twitterverse for some original ideas on thanksgiving traditional favorites. This dish is the best one we got. I wish I remembered who provided it. Whoever it was, thank you. It's now a staple at our thanksgivings with everyone asking me to make it every year. The dish originally called for shrimp, but crawfish is even better. I've made a few slight tweaks, but the credit goes to... whoever that was.
This year, the dishes I made along with this were Cajun-season turkey breasts; twice-baked sweet potatoes; and garlicky, bacony, roasted Brussels sprouts. My wife made an awesome rutabaga and cauliflower mash, and other family members contributed good dishes as well. I'm not going to talk about all of that, mostly because I didn't take pictures of it. Sorry.
Ingredients you'll need
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 sweet yellow onion diced
1 stalk of celery chopped
1 bell pepper chopped (I prefer yellow, but it doesn't really matter)
Garlic... as much as you want, but at least two cloves
4 bay leaves
½ teaspoon thyme
2 cups chicken broth or stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sage
1 bunch green onions finely chopped (optional)
1 pound crawfish, pre-cooked
1 pound andouille sausage sliced thin and quartered
1 skillet of cornbread prepared ahead of time (I've tried both sweet and savory recipes, and both work well)
Hot sauce or cayenne pepper (optional)
Sauté the andouille in the butter until cooked. Then add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic. Sauté until the onions are clear. Usually when cooking with onions and other vegetables, you want to get the onions translucent before you add anything else. In this particular case, I didn't since I was okay with the final product being a bit onion-y. That's a personal choice.
Add the bay leaves, thyme, sage and chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the crawfish. [Note: if you do use shrimp, you'll need to let it cook for 2-3 minutes at this point.] Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the cornbread you've crumbled ahead of time like a boss. You can also stir in the green onions here if you want. I didn't use green onions in my dish. Season to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce, cayenne, or your favorite Cajun seasoning. At this point, everything is safe to eat, obviously. I didn't end up doing this, but I thought about making waffles with this mixture. I ultimately was worried that they wouldn't stay together all that well with chunks of meat in them, but I've seen people who made cornbread dressing waffles online. Feel free.
Pour the dressing into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 for about an hour or until it looks cornbread-dressingish.
It should go in looking like this...
and come out looking like this: