Monday, August 06, 2007

Low country boil

This is one of those things that works even better when it is not made in a tiny apartment kitchen. Ideally you should have a gigantic outdoor pot (perhaps the same one you deep-fry your thanksgiving turkey in?) and a bunch of people standing around drinking cold beers. If you can't do it that way, you should at least have a enormous stockpot bubbling, one big enough to contain a full set of 6 month old triplets. What you don't want is my situation--two medium sized pots on a medium size stovetop in a wee kitchen that heats up to death valley in an Atlanta summer. Oh well. Low country boil is just shrimp in the shell boiled up with potatoes, sausage and corn. It's really easy to make for a bunch of people and the only difficult part is timing the ingredients so it is all cooked at the same time. Last year I made it at my friends Betsy & Ryan's wedding--it was easier because it was all in a great big pot and then I had two guys drain it for me. When I made it the other day, I had no lackeys and the pots were subpar. So my advice is--use your biggest pot but if your biggest pot isn't big enough for the crowd you are cooking for then you must use two because otherwise it won't cook with enough room.

Fill your biggest pot with water and bring it to a boil with about 1/2 cup of Old Bay seasoning in it. That is sort of a "to taste" measurement; you may want more or less. When it is boiling, add 2 pounds of potatoes. I pick out the tiniest fingerling potatoes that I can find--that way I don't have to cut them in half and also I like the flavor of fingerlings. If you don't have tiny tiny potatoes to choose from, just buy red potaotes and cut them in half if they are small or into quarters if they are large. Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes, then add about 1 pound of sausage, cut up into 2" pieces. I use Georgia Boy sausage but you can use any kielbasa type that is handy. Boil for another 5 minutes then add about 1 pound of corn on the cob that you have shucked and trimmed into 3" pieces. Let boil for another 3 minutes then add 2 pounds of raw shrimp in shell (this is great for lazy cooks who do not want to peel or devein). Let everything boil for another 2 minutes then find somebody to drain it off for you or just suck it up and do it yourself. If you found crab legs at the market, you could add those along with the corn and that would be delicious. Put it all on a platter and let everybody share. Put out lemon and cocktail sauce and also some french bread. A dish for eaters to dump shrimp shells in is also handy.

On the side we had collard greens that I had made the other day and put in the fridge to get more flavorful. I like these with Louisiana hot sauce on top. I put about 1/2 pound of smoked, peppered fatback chunks in the bottom of my cast iron dutch oven of medium heat until they became soft, I added 1 thinly sliced onion on top and let it all cook until the onion was also softened. Meanwhile I took a large bunch of collard greens and trimmed the stalk and center rib out of each leaf. Stacked about 5 trimmed leaves on top of each other then rolled them up like a cigar and sliced them crossways to make ribbons (this is the chiffonade technique that I usually use with green--essential for preparing collards). Washed the strips of collards then added to the pot on top of the smoked meat and onions. You may need to let them wilt down in the pot somewhat before adding more greens on top. Covered and turned down to low heat and let cook until very tender--about 45 minutes, stirring every so often. They will taste even better a day or so later so you can make them in advance and then reheat.

Molly, Byron, Jeremy and Melanie all had dinner with us. Byron and I had found a key lime pie at the DeKalb Market and it was actually pretty good. We drank beer and it was a pretty fun night.

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