A lowcountry boil is the southeastern coast's equivalent to a New England clambake. Take the fresh shellfish catch of the day, dump it in a giant pot with some vegetables and sausage, and you're more than halfway to a giant feast for you and your friends. The boils I attended growing up were usually full of shrimp, potatoes, and corn, but there can be quite a bit of variance in the pot.
In Rebecca Lang's Around the Southern Table, the lowcountry boil includes crawfish along with the requisite shrimp, but crab would be just as welcome. Generous pieces of spicy smoked sausage bring out the Cajun side of the blend, and a big box of extra-spicy boil seasoning adds even more heat to the mix. Drain and dump the boil out on a table covered in newspapers for a fun mess of a meal.
Why I picked this recipe: Summer may be prime lowcountry boil season, but I couldn't wait that long. There's something about eating hot seafood with your hands that brings sunshine to even the dreariest of late-winter days.
What worked: Lang's cooking method is spot on. The components are layered into a stockpot of boiling water, seasoning, and beer (!) at timed intervals so the potatoes are perfectly tender just as the shrimp turns opaque.
What didn't: Nothing.
Suggested tweaks: If you can't get your hands on crawfish (it's still a bit early in the season right now), you can simply double the amount of shrimp in the recipe. I followed the suggestion on my crab boil seasoning packet and added 4 tablespoons of kosher salt to the water before adding the vegetables.
Reprinted from Around The Southern Table: Coming home to comforting meals and treasured memories by Rebecca Lang. Copyright 2012. Published by Oxmoor House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1 (3-ounce) package extra-spicy boil-in-bag shrimp-and-crab boil
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle pale ale beer
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 3 pounds baby red potatoes
- 2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 6 ears fresh corn, cut in half
- 2 pounds unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
- 2 pounds fresh crawfish
- Cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, and hot sauce, for serving
Combine first 3 ingredients and 5 quarts water in a 12-quart covered stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Add potatoes and sausage; cover and cook 10 minutes. Add corn; cover and cook 5 minutes.
Add shrimp and crawfish; cover and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, and hot sauce.