Summer Southern Classic: Shrimp Boil
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Summer Southern Classic: Shrimp Boil

I grew up in rural western Minnesota and spent my 20s and 30s in the Minneapolis.  Summer there brings back memories of spending time at the lake grilling hamburgers and brats, potato salad and creamy coleslaw .  Or, if you were lucky and someone caught walleye or northern pike fishing at the lake, you might have a fish fry. 

When I relocated to the east coast a few years ago, the picture of summer fun began to change.  Fresh salt water fish and seafood was now available at the local seafood markets all year round. And, I was introduced to the southern coastal summer party classic:  a seafood boil. 

Shrimp, crab, clams and other seafood delights are put together with two summer mainstays: fresh corn on the cob and potatoes.  Add to that your favorite spicy sausage and some Old Bay (or other local seafood seasoning) and you have the ingredients for this simple but delicious summer one pot meal. 

You can keep it simple and serve watermelon for dessert along with the seafood boil.  For a larger gathering, I like to add southern coleslaw (vinegar based vs mayonnaise based) and cornbread to the menu.

A seafood boil is often prepared and served beachside, poured on newspaper covered picnic tables with rolls of paper towels for napkins, guests get to get messy digging into this family style meal.

My first time making this classic was when we gathered as a family in Myrtle Beach for a summer beach vacation.  It just seemed like the perfect menu for our stay on the beach.

Nowadays, you can get good quality shrimp in most parts of the country so there is no reason that you can’t make this easy and fun dinner just about any night of the week or at your next back yard, beach side or cabin gathering.

Shrimp Boil
3 lemons, cut into wedges, reserving 1/3 of wedges for serving
1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion cut into 1 inch pieces
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound baby red potatoes
4 ears corn, cut in half
1 1/4 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, unpeeled but deveined and rinsed well
Optional: 1 pound of smoked sausage, sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Fill a large seafood pot with 4-5 quarters of water. A seafood pot is a specialized pot come with a strainer that makes your life easier as you can pull our the strainer when done to easily remove the shrimp boil.  If you don’t have a seafood pot, then use a large soup pot. 

Squeeze the lemon wedges into the water and then add the wedges right into the pot. Add Old Bay, garlic and onion pieces. Add the thyme sprigs to the water. 

Cover the pot and over high heat bring the water to a boil.  Reduce to simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning adding additional Old Bay to your taste. Return to a boil. Now you are ready to start cooking the ingredients. 

The order of adding the ingredients is based on how long each item takes to cook.

First add the potatoes (and sausage if using) to the pot.  Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a fork but not completely done.

Add the corn and cook for an additional 3 - 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook just until the shrimp turn pink and curl, about 2 to 3 minutes.

If you have a seafood pot, pull the strainer carefully out of the pot and pour into a large serving dish or onto your newspaper covered table. Otherwise, using a slotted spoon, add shrimp and vegetables to a large serving bowl. 

Top with 4 tablespoons of butter and toss to coat the shrimp and vegetables. 

If desired, add 1/2 to 1 cup of the broth to the serving platter.  Sprinkle with additional Old Bay for garnish.

Serve with lemon wedges and Old Bay on the side.

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