Coastal Living: “Strummin’ my six string… On my front porch swing…. Smell those shrimp they’re beginning to boil…” _ Jimmy Buffet
I am happy to say that the first time I shared a pot of Frogmore Stew, it was on the back deck of our good friends’ home a few years ago. An enviable outdoor living room, too, as their sprawling summer retreat epitomizes the season of easy, breezy living with its screen doors and porch swings sheltered by canopies of tall shade trees. I had heard of the dish before but needed a little local clarification from my gal pal, who hails from South Carolina. She described the Lowcountry boil to me, licking her lips in anticipation as she rattled off the combination of unlikely ingredients for this one-pot meal: shrimp, corn on the cob, smoked sausage and red potatoes that are cooked in a savory broth. Hey, she had me at shrimp and corn–but I was more than a little curious about the “Frogmore” part. I was relieved when I was reassured that, no, there weren’t any frog appendages in the thing. The classic stew, reputedly created in the 1950’s by a local shrimp fisherman, was named for the little hamlet on the coastal island of St. Helena (near Beaufort, South Carolina). A place that has only a post office on one side of the road and a two-story white country store on the other (or so I’ve read).
So, with drinks in hand under the starry summer sky, we all gathered around the steaming pot, intoxicated by all those yummy smells and waited. When the last of the shrimps turned bright pink in their shells, the cauldron’s contents, strained from the swim in the hot tub, were spilled onto a clean tablecloth, purchased specifically for this great occasion, and we all dug in and ate with relish in the cool of the evening then went back for more.
- 4 quarts cold water
- 1 package crab boil, such as Zatarain’s
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 pounds fingerling or small red potatoes
- 6 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed and quartered
- 2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 2 pounds medium shrimp, deveined, in the shell
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the water, crab boil, bay leaves, salt, onion, celery and potatoes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the corn and sausage to the pot and simmer until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Add in the lemon and shrimp and cook until the shrimp are opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Remove the pot from the heat and strain the ingredients, discarding broth, crab boil bag and bay leaves. Transfer to a large platter, season with pepper and drizzle with some of the butter. Sprinkle on the parsley and serve immediately with the remaining melted butter for the table.
Planning: Although this dish needs to be cooked and served immediately, the simple preparations can be completed before your guests arrive, making it a perfect impromptu entertaining meal. Be sure to pick up shrimp that’s been deveined but still in the shells-the shells add great flavor to the stew.
Product Purity: Most supermarket brands of smoked sausage contain tons of additives and MSG, so choose wisely. I like Aidell’s fully cooked Cajun-style andouille (it’s made with pork raised without hormones, no gluten and no MSG). It’s nice and spicy!