Game plan: Unless you bought them prepurged, the crawfish will have to be soaked in an ice chest full of fresh water for about 10 minutes before cooking, to clean their exterior and cause them to spit up the swampy muck in their intestines.
Special equipment: A Bayou Classic 80-quart aluminum stockpot with a strainer insert is a must. If you want to do the boil outside, which is traditional and highly recommended, an outdoor gas burner is necessary as well. If you don’t have either, borrow ’em; if you can’t borrow ’em, buy ’em—they’re available as a set that you can use again at Thanksgiving to fry your turkey.
8 to 10 medium new potatoes, such as Red Bliss or Yukon gold
4 small yellow onions, cut in half
Find out if your crawfish have been purged. If they haven’t, soak in fresh water for 10 minutes (some people say you need to salt—you don’t).
While you’re waiting, fill an 80-quart pot (fitted with a strainer insert) halfway with water and bring to a boil over a large outdoor burner over high heat. Add hot sauce, salt, Zatarain’s, and cayenne pepper.
Add potatoes and onions to the pot. (No need to peel either.) Boil vegetables for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cover a table with newspapers, flattened cardboard boxes, or plastic trays for serving the crawfish.
Add half the crawfish to the pot. After 5 minutes turn off the heat, cover, and let the crawfish steep to absorb the flavors for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and dump onto the table. Repeat with the rest of the crawfish (you can boil 2 to 3 batches of crawfish in the same water-seasoning mixture).
Eat plain or with dippin’ sauces like cocktail sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, or Tabasco.
If you want to be authentic, drink Abita Beer, brewed in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Outside of Louisiana you can get it here.