My Family Recipe Rocks Episodes

Classic Southern Cooking, Crawfish Boil in Heart of Cajun Country

Joey Fatone is in New Orleans cooking up three classic southern dishes with three women who have been friends for years.
New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind city with history and charm that's tough to beat. From the popular French Quarter and Bourbon Street to the mighty Mississippi, the food culture in the Big Easy is a big part of everyone's life.

Joey Fatone headed to the home of Shannon Cantrell where he met up with her long-time friends, Wendy Roberts and Carol Ann Rotolo. The childhood friends share a special bond that has been built on the spirit of New Orleans. Having survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, all three women rebuild their homes and their lives while their love for New Orleans and each other never wavered.

"We just rebuilt. You do what you have to do. We didn't wait to be helped as much as we got out there and helped each other and you really can see that when you look around. I think it is great! That's why I am never going to leave," said Wendy.

These ladies have been pushing forward ever since, keeping their families close with a little help from the magic of the kitchen. One thing that has always remained the same is their love of food and creating old family recipes that everyone loves.

Carol Ann is a master at the crawfish boil, which is a staple in Louisiana. This is the perfect dish for entertaining a large crowd.

"Today we are having a crawfish boil. This is something we do in Louisiana. We do it pretty often. We have mushrooms and garlic and onions and potatoes and sausage and corn and wieners and basically anything you like you can put in," said Carol Ann.

One of Carol Ann's secrets to perfectly cooked potatoes and garlic is to put them in a laundry bag before adding them to the large pot of seasoned boiling water.

"It holds up in the hot water because the hot water melts the plastic bag that the potatoes came in. And, the potatoes they get all over the crawfish when they get soft and I don't like it," said Carol Ann.

Carol Ann gets her crawfish from local farms. She says it's important to clean them really well, making sure you keep them cold during the process. It takes a little effort to get them ready to eat but it's all part of the process that Carol Ann has been a part of all her life.

Carol Ann owns two family seafood businesses in the New Orleans area.

"Forty years we have been in the seafood business," said Carol Ann.

While the crawfish cooked, Shannon showed Joey how to make another classic southern dish -- shrimp and grits. It is something Joey has never tried before. She cooks the shrimp in butter, spices and fresh herbs. The secret weapon in her grits is jalapeno cheddar cheese. The end result is a delicious and comforting dish.

For dessert, Wendy Roberts stepped up with her bread pudding with a special rum sauce. Wendy says her recipe is passed down from generation to generation.

"Growing up here, it was traditional to be raised by stay-at-home moms. Daughters learned from their mothers and grandmothers and it's such a way to comfort and come together. I think that having that time and being able to enjoy that and being able to compliment someone when they are finished cooking, I think a lot of people here are waiting for that compliment at the end of that dish because they really do put their heart and soul into making whatever it is," said Wendy.

Wendy likes to add fruit cocktail, crushed pineapple, raisins and pecans to her bread pudding. She says you can add whatever fruit you like.

Gathering back in the kitchen, the girls gave Joey a lesson on how to eat a crawfish. After he cracked the head off and ate the meat, they urged him to suck the head because that's where all the delicious juice and spices have marinated.

Like most families in the South, a big gathering is how this crowd likes to roll. A classic crawfish boil is as much a social gathering as it is a fun and delicious way to enjoy come great cooking. With the entire crawfish pot poured out on the table covered in newspaper, Shannon, Wendy, Carol Ann, and their families dove in.

Segment 1
Louisiana Crawfish Boil
Louisiana Crawfish Boil
Carol Ann Rotolo is a master at the crawfish boil, which is a staple in Louisiana. This is the perfect dish for entertaining a large crowd.
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Segment 2
Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits
Shannon Cantrell's recipe for shrimp and grits is a comforting and delicious southern specialty.
See Recipe
Segment 3
Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce
Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce
Wendy Robert shares her family's recipe for bread pudding with rum sauce. She adds fruit cocktail, crushed pineapple, raisins and pecans to the rich dessert.
See Recipe
Photo Gallery
Behind-the-Scenes Photos: Crawfish Boil
Go behind the scenes as Joey Fatone attends a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil!
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