Spring has now sprung, and as the heat starts to roll in that means that many of us in the South will begin our regular migrations to large bodies of water. And few things make for a better feast for friends at the beach or lake than a good ole’ fashioned low country boil.
I spent his past weekend at the beaches of L.A. – that is Lower Alabama for those of you not from this neck of the woods – and put together my first boil of the season. Beyond the fact that most people can’t help but enjoy a bounty of seafood, the Low Country Boil is a favorite of mine because it is A – extremely easy to do and difficult to mess up and B – the people that you feed are always more impressed with your work than they probably should be.
One of the biggest issues that I have with other people’s LCBs is that they go too light on the seasoning. Many recipes simply call for “Old Bay to taste”, and a lot of folks wind up under seasoning the food. Or if you are working off of the directions off of a boil-bag box, you only use one for a boil for 10+ people, and you can barely taste the difference. The secret to the success of my Low Country Boils is to be aggressive with the seasoning, and it has not failed me yet.
For this particular boil, we excluded the potatoes – ok, fine…we completely forgot them – but we grabbed a couple of baguettes and that made up for it. For a group of 10 guys, we used 5 lbs of Snow Crab, 3 lbs of large shrimp, 3lbs of crawfish, 3 lbs of andouille sausage and 8 ears of corn. Despite missing the potatoes, this was the perfect amount for a group our size.
I don’t usually have a prescribed level of seasoning, because as I watch the pot boil and sip a few cold ones, I start throwing in whatever suits my fancy at the time. This past weekend, I used 2 boil bags (one spicy Zatarain’s and one plain), a few healthy dashes of hot sauce, 4 sliced up lemons, and dumped a few light beers in there for good measure. It was fantastic, if I do say so myself, and easy as can be.
What about you? Do you have a favorite Low Country Boil secret? Would you like to share with the rest of the class?
Here is the complete recipe for those that are interested:
Jon Watson’s Gulf Shores Low Country Boil
Serves 10 w/out potatoes, 15 with
5 lbs of Snow Crab legs (frozen)
3 lbs of large shrimp, unpeeled
3lbs of crawfish
3 lbs of andouille sausage, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
8 ears of corn, cut in half
2 boil-in-a-bags (Spicy optional)
6 lemons (4 cut in half for the boil, 2 sliced into wedges for garnish)
1-2 light beers
Hot sauce to taste
Cocktail sauce and lemon butter for dipping
Large pot (a turkey fryer works well for a large group)
OPTIONAL: 5 lbs new potatoes, cut in half (not pictured)
Add the boil bags, lemon halves, beer, and hot sauce to a large pot of water, filled to about half way, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the sausage and potatoes if included and cook for roughly 10 minutes. Next, add the corn and crab and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Finally, add the shrimp and crawfish and cook for no more than 3-4 additional minutes.
Remove contents from the pot and lay out on a newspaper-covered picnic table. Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon butter (optional). Enjoy.
- By Jon Watson, Food & More Blog