Everyone’s heard variations on the saying “The cobbler’s kids go barefoot”, and it’s not all that different around here at times. Sure, we have great meals on a regular basis.. but when things get super busy, we tend to lose all creativity and drive, and slap together one of our go-to meals. Easy, little effort, and very satisfying. In winter, that usually ends up being chili.. but in summer, we love our low country boil.. not a common thing here in Minnesota, but it is SO freaking good! It’s also pretty much the ideal meal for getting together – and would be great for a rehearsal dinner or small, casual wedding dinner.
Hubby and I actually planned to do a Low Country Boil for our own rehearsal dinner, but his stepmother already had something planned. Figured I’d put that out there for those of you looking for new and unique ideas to employ in your own wedding plans!
This Southern dish can be done so many ways, and we never do two exactly the same. It can be a quick and easy meal for 2, or it can be the basis for a GREAT cookout party with friends. Additionally, it can be a frugal, thrifty thing.. or as extravagant as you want.
The basic ingredients are very basic: Corn, Smoked Sausage, Shrimp, Potatoes, Lemons, Seasoning
You get a big pot of seasoned water boiling, and one by one add the ingredients to the pot, starting with potatoes (take the longest to cook), and ending with shrimp (take very little time to cook).
Of course, I never do anything the way you’re supposed to.. and besides, I’m not even southern. That means I’m exempt from any rules that may be applied here, right? LOL.
The big change I like to make is with the seasoning. You’re “supposed to” use Old Bay Seasoning for this. Not only is that boring, but the salt content is insane, and besides.. customization is always more fun! I like using a mix of fresh (onions, garlic, green onions, jalapenos, etc) and dried (sage, pepper, dried mustard, parsley, bay leaves, etc) ingredients to flavor my broth.
You can also start your broth off in different ways – use some chicken broth, boil fresh shrimp shells (without the shrimp in them!) for added flavor – just remove the shells before adding your food and other seasonings in! Also, adding a can or two of beer to your water / broth adds a great flavor. Any of these is a much better option than just water and Old Bay Seasoning, in my not so humble opinion!
The ingredients are also customizable. Corn, Potatoes, Shrimp, and Sausage are a good solid foundation.. but feel free to add clams, mussels, and even crab legs. It’s your stew!
Now that I’ve made the whole thing sound way more complicated than it is, let me give you a basic recipe for it, and let you just have at it :). This makes a substantial amount of food, so don’t be surprised if you have leftovers. It also makes ridiculously good food, so don’t be surprised if you don’t have leftovers because everyone gorged till they had nothing left to eat!
Marie’s Low Country Boil
1 onion for every 3 people being served – quartered
1 lemon for every 3 or so people being served, quartered
Beer – about 1 can for every 2-3 people being served. Maybe more, maybe less – it’s entirely optional.
Chicken broth (optional, use as much or as little as you want)
Garlic – as much as you want
Green onions (optional.. a couple chopped green onions for every few people is usually good)
Jalapenos, habaneros, or whatever (optional, chop a few for every few people being served)
Dried sage – 1 tsp for every 3 or so being served
Pepper – as much as you like
Dried mustard powder – as much as you’d like.
Bay Leaves – 1 for every few being served
Dried Parsley – add a handful for color.
1/3 lb new red potatoes, halved or quartered (per person)
1/2 lb smoked sausage (like Kielbassa) per person
1/3 lb uncooked shrimp per person
1-2 ears of corn per person
Whatever else you want – clams, crab, mussels, etc
Get a pot of an appropriate size for the amount of food you’re looking to cook. The more people being served, the bigger the pot!
Fill it about 1/3 full (to start) with water. Add chicken stock and/or beer if you’re going to, as well as everything else from the broth ingredients that you’re using. Also, whatever else you want to use to flavor it. Bring it to a boil.
Add potatoes and sausage, adding more water if necessary. Sausage doesn’t take long to cook, but it will add a great flavor to the water – and potatoes. Cook for 30 mins or so.
Add the corn, cook another 5 minutes.
Add the Shrimp, and any other seafood you may want to add. Cook another 5 minutes, or until it’s done – Shrimp should be pink, clams and mussels fully open, etc. Discard any mussels, clams, etc that do not open.
Traditionally, you’re supposed to strain everything out, and dump it out in the middle of a newspaper-covered table for a savage free for all. While this is great fun for a cookout, we usually end up straining everything into a large mixing bowl. In either case, serve it up with cocktail sauce, dijon mustard, or whatever else you’d like to dip your food in. Dig in!
We usually save the water for the next batch, but we don’t usually use the potatoes. If you’re cooking potatoes, the water may be too starchy to bother. Saving the broth is not only thrifty and makes it SO fast to slap on supper on a moment’s notice, it also grows the flavor. We’ll add another lemon, or more jalapenos, or whatever… Yum.
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