To the uninitiated, fried crawfish pie sounds as laughable as a fried Snickers: a gimmick worthy of the Rose Festival fun center. But this Hot Pocket-size pie’s pure Cajun roots run as deep as Lake Pontchartrain. Fortunately for us, its latest incarnation is now available mere steps from Portland’s transit mall at a new food cart called the Swamp Shack.
Proprietor Trey Corkern hails from a small town just north of New Orleans and honed his culinary chops cooking at Bourbon Street’s famed Galatoire’s Restaurant. He got his inspiration to deep-fry the traditionally baked crawfish pie years ago from the legendary food stands at NOLA’s annual Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Today, more than 2,000 miles from home, Corkern whips up the buttery, honey-colored crust for his pie from scratch. He stuffs it with juicy bits of sweet crawfish and a blond, tangy, homemade buttermilk filling he calls Creole cream cheese (a concoction like sour cream that’s scarcely seen outside of Louisiana). It’s all enlivened by the “Holy Trinity” of Cajun ingredients—bell peppers, celery, and onions—then deep-fried to crispy, flaky perfection. At just $3.50 a pie, there isn’t a better deal for that much Southern comfort this side of Dixie.