Now, this was big fun.
We’d been hearing a lot about the seafood boils popular in Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina, where they take a big stockpot, make a seasoned broth and add seafood, fresh corn, spicy sausage and sometimes new potatoes, staggering the ingredients so they all finish cooking at the same time.
We had to get in on this.
So, we started doing a little research, and this is where things got confusing.
In Georgia and South Carolina, this party in a pot is called a Lowcountry (or Low Country) Boil, Frogmore Stew or Beaufort Stew. The seasonings tend to be fairly mild, and they usually include a mix of shellfish, like shrimp and crabs.
In Louisiana, they usually make a seafood boil with only one type of shellfish, so their boils are named for that featured shellfish (e.g. shrimp boil, crawfish boil). The other big difference is that a Louisiana boil tends to be much spicier, with cayenne and hot sauce added to the broth.
Since Jeff lives on habanero and cayenne, we decided to tackle a Louisiana-style Cajun Shrimp Boil with extra-large shrimp, sweet Andouille sausage, fresh corn and red potatoes.
First, we made the broth, which is not an exact science or something to get too worked up over. (You’re starting with a huge pot of water, which is basically bringing no flavor to your meat and vegetables, so anything you add to it is going to be an improvement.) Add your favorite crab boil mix, some quartered lemons and salt, and then go crazy. Pour in a bottle of beer. Add an onion and some bay leaves. Spice it up with cayenne and hot sauce.
Then, bring your broth to a boil, and decide who’s going to be the Boil Master. Because someone has to make sure the ingredients are added to the pot in the right order, at the right time, so everything finishes at once. You start with the ingredient that takes the longest amount of cooking time (the potatoes, for us) and finish with the one that requires the least (the shrimp).
What do you do with everything when the cooking is done?
The traditional way to serve this “dump meal” is to drain the pot, dump everything onto tables lined with newspaper, and dig in. But if you want to drain the pot and serve everything on platters, I won’t judge you.
The point is to have fun and get your hands dirty, even if you don’t live anywhere near a coast.
Cajun Shrimp Boil
Rebecca Crump (EzraPoundCake.com)
Yield: 6 servings
- 3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning (or Zatarain’s or your favorite crab boil mix)
- 3 lemons, quartered
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 can or bottle of beer*
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
- Cayenne pepper
- Hot sauce
- 2 pounds small red potatoes
- 2 pounds Andouille sausage, sliced on the bias into thirds
- 6 ears corn, shucked and halved
- 2 to 3 pounds large raw shrimp, unpeeled
- Fill a large stockpot with about 5 quarts of water. Add Old Bay, lemons, salt, bay leaves and any of the optional broth ingredients. Bring to a rolling boil.
- Add potatoes, lower the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
- Add sausage, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add corn, and cook for another 7 minutes.
- Add shrimp, stir, and cook for about 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Dump everything onto a table lined with newspapers.
- Serve with melted butter, hot sauce, salt and pepper, and ice cold beer.
*Gluten-Free Tip: Don’t forget to use GF beer.