By Cindy Reid | I am not a foodie. A hot dog, pickle, and some slaw is as exciting to me as is the finest French cuisine. Raised on an unvaried diet of convenience foods such as Spam and Rice a Roni left me with a lifelong disinterest in the finer points of cooking. This is not to say that I don’t appreciate good food, because I do, and oddly I am a good cook, but left to my own devices, well we are back to the hot dog and slaw. But then I discovered Lowcountry Boil. Simple ingredients, cooked in one large pot, served outside and enjoyed with friends.
Perfection in one dish!
Also known as Frogmore Stew, Beaufort Stew, and Beaufort Boil, Lowcountry Boil’s origins are as clear as pluff mud. Some say the dish originated with the Gullah culture, using spices and cooking methods brought over from Africa with French and Spanish influences. Other say the dish was concocted by a local shrimper. It has had moments of national acclaim, even being pictured on the cover of Gourmet magazine in the 1980s, and featured on the Travel Channel in 2005. Most if not all regional cookbooks present a version of the dish, with little flourishes and touches not usually found in the original.
Back to the simplicity part. It is insanely simple, but a word of caution, it is also easy to mess up. The trick is to have all the ingredients cooked at the same time without being overcooked. No one likes mushy corn or overcooked shrimp. Quantities depend on how many you are serving, but a good rule of thumb is equal parts corn, meat and shrimp. Being a Yankee I can only assemble the ingredients and Kip, being a native Southerner, takes over from there. What follows is just the basic formula, and many people add red potatoes to the mix.
Zatarain’s or Old Bay seasoning in a bag
Large white onions, quartered
Kielbasa cut into 2 inch sections or hot smoked link sausage
Corn, on the cob cut into halves
Small amount of white vinegar, which keeps the shrimp meat from sticking to their shells
Fresh shrimp, headed but with shells on
Bring the water and seasoning to a boil. Add onions and meat. Wait 30 minutes, and then add the corn. Wait 30 minutes, and then the shrimp, and only cook till they turn pink. Have a table covered with newspaper ready, and serve it up right on the table. Sure you can go fancy and provide plates and forks if you want but we are all among friends here and it’s perfectly okay just to dive in and enjoy!
A nice touch is homemade cocktail sauce and lemon for the shrimp. Some Beaufortonians add beer to the recipie. Another nice touch is having a few rolls of paper towels handy because it is a messy feed, best eaten outside, which is also one of the best things about it!
So next time you want to impress out of town guests or have a few neighbors and friends over for a fun feast, cook up a big pot of Lowcountry Boil and enjoy! Make sure you order up a beautiful night and a Carolina moon as everyone will want to linger in each other’s good company, which is just as it should be.