Jazz Fest Style Crawfish Bread

It doesn't seem fair that Panaroma Foods crawfish bread is only available in New Orleans for two consecutive weekends during Jazz Fest.  I've walked through the muddy fairgrounds to get a slice of this soft bread full of perfectly seasoned cheesy goodness.  I actually plan my route through Jazz Fest based on the food booths.  I'll admit it, and Shannon, you know that you're right there by my side...front row at the gospel tent, crawfish bread in hand, dancing away.  That's how you do Jazz Fest.

My Jazz Fest buddy, Shannon and I always share a slice of crawfish bread because somehow that makes us feel like it is less fattening.  The problem is that we'll get another slice each time we pass the crawfish bread booth.  It's so difficult to pace ourselves.  Whether you trudge through the fair grounds or make your own crawfish bread to satisfy your cravings, the following recipe is my solution to enjoying crawfish bread any time of year.

Jazz Fest Style Crawfish Bread

Servings: One 18-inch loaf

3 Tablespoons butter

1 red bell pepper ( 1 cup) diced

1/2 cup onions, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1 Tablespoon garlic, minced

1 lb. peeled crawfish tails (about 2 1/2 cups) with any fat

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons grainy mustard

8 oz mozzarella cheese ( 3 cups) grated

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese ( 1 1/2 cups) grated

1  16-18" loaf soft French bread

1. In a medium size skillet on medium heat, melt the butter.  Add bell pepper, onions, celery and sauté until softened, but still bright in color, 8-10 minutes.  Add the green onions and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  

2. Add the crawfish tails and cook until the released juices have evaporated, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool. 15-20 minutes.  

3. Preheat oven to 350° F.

4. Add the mayonnaise and mustard to the crawfish and stir until combined.  Add the mozzarella and cheddar cheese and stir just to combine into a thick mixture.  

5. Slice the loaf of bread in half lengthwise leaving the back edge attached.  Open the loaf and spread the filling on the bottom half of the loaf.  Gently press the top half of the loaf down on the filling to close.  Wrap the stuffed loaf in aluminum foil and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake in the preheated oven until the filling is warm and gooey, 25-30 minutes.  Cool the loaf for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.