What’s a summer without at least one clam bake or shrimp boil? Upon receiving our latest Food & Wine magazine, their cover image was a tempting looking Shrimp Boil, so we decided there and then to make one. This shrimp boil is a one-pot summer feast for a crowd. However, their recipe served eight (at a minimum) and with only the two of us it made sense to cut it in half.
In it, sweet, plump Gulf shrimp, corn, potatoes, and andouille sausage, come together in a flavorful cooking liquor. It is recommended to use large shrimp in the shell, which helps prevent overcooking and imparts its own flavor to both the shrimp and broth. Add dense ingredients like potatoes and corn first, then sausage, then shrimp. Just before serving, the boil is finished in a garlic spice butter. Yummy!
Like “Barbecue,” “Shrimp Boil” is both a noun and a verb. While all of the flavors are important, the real flavor from a boil comes from a potent cooking liquor. This broth takes it aromatic flavors from alliums, lemon and spices; while a bottle each of white wine and clam juice add heft.
Not having a large enough pot with a fitted strainer, we omitted the strainer altogether, except at the end to drain the food into. Additionally, the amount of liquids were reduced to make sure everything would fit our smaller pot.
For authenticity, you may want to line your eating surface with newspaper or butcher paper and serve the shrimp, corn and potatoes splayed out on the table. Of course, a more formal/civilized approach is to serve from a platter. Whatever style you choose, make sure to have plenty of paper towels handy because the food is meant to be eaten with your hands.
Southern-Style Shrimp Boil
- 2 lemons
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning, plus more for serving
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp.)
- 5 Tbsp. plus 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt, divided
- Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste
- 11 qts. water
- 1 750-milliliter bottle dry unoaked white wine (such as Pinot Grigio)
- 1 8-oz. bottle clam juice (such as Bar Harbor)
- 1 large yellow onion, quartered lengthwise, root intact
- 2 garlic heads, halved crosswise
- 8 dried bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme
- 1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
- 2 lbs. small yellow, red, or gold potatoes
- 8 8-oz. shucked ears fresh corn, halved crosswise
- 3 lbs. fresh or smoked sausages, preferably andouille
- 4 lbs. unpeeled raw large wild shrimp
- Dipping Sauce, optional, for serving (See Step 5 for making your own.)
- Whole-grain mustard, for serving
- Grate zest from 1 lemon to measure 2 teaspoons. Set grated zest aside. Cut zested lemon and remaining lemon into quarters; set aside. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low. Stir in Cajun seasoning, minced garlic, 1/8 teaspoon salt, hot sauce to taste, and reserved lemon zest. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
- Place a 24-quart pot on an outdoor propane burner. Add 11 quarts water, wine, clam juice, onion, garlic heads, bay leaves, thyme, quartered lemons, and remaining 5 tablespoons salt to pot; cover and bring to a boil over high flame. Stir in crab boil packets; cover and cook 10 minutes. Place a fitted strainer inside pot.
- Add potatoes to strainer in pot; cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in corn and sausages; cover and cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of sausage registers 155°F (or until heated through if using smoked sausages), about 10 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, uncovered, until shrimp are pink, opaque, and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Lift strainer from pot, letting liquid strain back into pot, and transfer shrimp boil mixture (potatoes, corn, sausage, and shrimp) to a large heatproof bowl; discard onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, lemons, crab boil packets, and strained liquid inside pot. Add reserved butter mixture to shrimp boil mixture; toss to coat. (If you don’t have a large enough bowl, you can do this step in batches, tossing half of the shrimp boil with half of the butter mixture at a time.) Arrange coated shrimp boil on a platter or a covered table. Season with additional Cajun seasoning or Old Bay. Serve with cocktail sauce and mustard, if desired.
- To make the dipping sauce: Stir together 1 8-ounce jar cocktail sauce, 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce in a small bowl. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 5 days. Grate fresh horseradish on top for serving, if you like.
Adapted from a recipe by Hunter Lewis for Food & Wine Magazine