Lowcountry boil

Nothing says summer to me like a lowcountry boil, also known as frogmore stew.

A couple of weeks ago I had a few friends over for dinner and I couldn’t get the idea of a lowcountry boil out of my head. Ideally we would have eaten outside—I don’t think I’ve ever had a lowcountry boil indoors, other than on a screen porch—but with the Seattle’s somewhat unpredictable July weather, I covered the table inside with plenty of newspaper, sliced lemons, cocktail sauce, Old Bay, and paper towels.

A lowcountry boil is one of my favorite meals, mostly because of its communal quality. There’s something about that steaming mess of shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes that brings people together; if you weren’t already comfortable with your dining companions, jockeying elbows and piles of discarded shrimp shells will do the trick nicely.

This is a very simple recipe from Southern Living, and can easily be adapted to the size of your group. I hope to make it at least one more time before the summer’s over!

Lowcountry boil
Adapted from Southern Living; makes more than enough for a dozen people.

5 quarts water
1/4 cup Old Bay
4 lbs. small red potatoes
2 lbs. kielbasa or hot smoked sausage links, cut into 1.5-inch pieces
6 ears of corn, each cut into three pieces
4 lbs. unpeeled, large, fresh shrimp (you’ll want big ones)
Optional: extra Old Bay, cocktail sauce, lemons

Bring the water, with Old Bay added to it, to a boil. Make sure the water isn’t too close to the top of the pot, because you’re going to be adding lots of stuff and you don’t want it to overflow.

After the water comes to a boil, you’re basically cooking the rest of the ingredients in shifts—starting with the potatoes, because they take the longest to cook through. So add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Then add the sausage and corn and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. At this point, check to make sure the potatoes are tender before you add the shrimp. If the potatoes are good to go, add the shrimp and cook for just a few minutes until they’re pink. Nobody likes rubbery shrimp, so don’t overcook them!

When the shrimp are done, drain everything and either dump it right onto a newspaper-covered table or on a platter. Squeeze a few lemon halves over all of it and serve with a few little bowls of cocktail sauce for dunking. Oh, and some cold beer!


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