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THE LOCAL RECIPES

CRAYFISH

How to throw your own Swedish crayfish party

August crayfish parties are one of the highlights of the Swedish calendar and appeal to people of all ages. Food writer John Duxbury shares his best tips with The Local for making your own crayfish party a success.

How to throw your own Swedish crayfish party
Swedish crayfish party. Photo: Carolina Romare/imagebank.sweden.se

READ ALSO: Ten Swedish dates all visitors must discover

The annual crayfish party ('kräftskiva') is an age-old tradition that has been held in Sweden since the 1800s. Actually, crayfish season used to be regulated in law and start the first Wednesday in August. This has since been done away with and nowadays you can buy frozen crayfish just about anywhere.

If you want to know what you're letting yourself in for before accepting that invitation to a Swedish crayfish party, read this handy guide first.

Summary

Serves: 6

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking: 40 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Ingredients

2kg (4.5 lb) live crayfish

1 large bunch of dill crowns (flower heads)

1 onion

330ml (12 fl oz) bottled dark beer, porter or stout

1tsp anise (aniseed)

3 litres (5 pints) of water

100 g (1 cup) coarse sea salt

2 tsp of sugar

Method

1. Divide the crayfish between four large plastic freezer bags. Seal each bag and pop the bags in the freezer for 2 hours to put the crayfish to sleep.

2. Set aside some of the best looking dill crowns to use as a garnish. Put the rest in a large bucket, large enough to take all the crayfish, and add the chopped onion, beer and anise.

3. Put the water, salt and sugar in a large pan and bring to the boil.

4. Remove a bag of crayfish from the freezer and immediately drop the crayfish into the boiling water. Cover the pan, return to the boil and cook for about 8 minutes, until the crayfish turn a bright orange/red colour. Remove the crayfish from the water with a slotted spoon and place in the bucket with the dill crowns and beer.

5. Repeat step 4 with the remaining crayfish until they are all cooked.

6. When you have finished cooking the crayfish, carefully pour the hot cooking liquid into the bucket and allow to cool.

7. When cold, transfer the crayfish, dill crowns and all the marinating liquid to containers to fit in your fridge. Leave the crayfish in the fridge overnight.

8. When you are ready to serve the crayfish, remove them from the marinade, drain and stack them on serving plates. Garnish with the reserved dill crowns.

This recipe was originally published on food writer John Duxbury's Swedish Food website.

RECIPE

Recipe: Swedish chicken with morel sauce

Swedish food writer John Duxbury's recipe for chicken with morel sauce is a great way to warm up one of those dull March weekends.

Recipe: Swedish chicken with morel sauce
Chicken with morel sauce. Photo: John Duxbury

Chicken’s mild taste is excellent for showing off the earthy taste of morels and the addition of tarragon brings out the flavour in the chicken.

Morels have a short season from (in a good year) March to May.  They are not easy to find, but you can sometimes find them round scrubby woodland, waste ground or even in gardens.  They are poisonous raw, but perfectly safe when cooked.  They can also be bought on some markets.  Although they are expensive to buy, you don’t actually need many and, to put the price in context, a portion costs less than a pint of beer.

With a little bit of good fortune tarragon will be beginning to show its face as the last of the morels fade away for the year.  It makes for a delicious spring combination and a real party treat fit for any occasion.

Summary

Serves: 2

Level: Easy

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 60 minutes

Total: 70 minutes

Tips

•  If you can’t find fresh morels it is fine to use dried. Simply allow them to soak for 20 minutes in hot water and then drain thoroughly.

•  If you want to cut down on cream, use white wine instead.

•  If you increase the quantities, be sure to fry the chicken in batches.

Ingredients

50-70 g (2-3 oz) morels
2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp butter
2 pieces of chicken, skin removed
1 tsp finely chopped tarragon, optional
300 ml (1¼ cups) chicken stock, made with a bouillon cube
35 g (1¼ oz) shallots, peeled and finely chopped (2-4 shallots)
4 tbsp double (heavy) cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dry sherry

Method

1. Cut the morels in half lengthways and then brush clean. Try and avoid washing them but if you do need to pat them dry afterwards.

2. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F, gas 2, fan 140°C).

3. Mix the flour and seasoning on a large plate.

4. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan (skillet). When hot dip both sides of each piece of chicken in the seasoned flour and then fry for about 4 minutes on each side until nicely coloured.

5. Place the chicken pieces in an ovenproof dish and pour half the chicken stock over them. Add the tarragon. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes, removing the foil for the last ten minutes.

6. After 20 minutes, melt another tablespoon of butter in a frying pan (skillet) and fry the morels and shallots for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

7. Pour in the other half of the chicken stock and simmer gently.

8. When the chicken is cooked, pour the stock from the chicken into the pan with the morels and return to a rapid simmer for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile cover the chicken with foil again and leave it somewhere warm to relax.

9. Add the cream, lemon juice and sherry to the morel mixture. Let the sauce simmer gently for about 5-10 minutes until it has a nice consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more sherry or lemon juice if desired.

10. Whilst the sauce is simmering, carve the chicken into slices. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve with rice.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food.