Mr. Foodie and I spend most of our evenings now in the basement room to avoid the stifling heat of the upper floor. While it feels strange to be “living” in the lower floor of my house for the time being, I’d like to think that someday Mr. Foodie and I will look back on this period—when we “camped” out in our spare bedroom with nothing but the new fan, a few books, and one another for company—and laugh or at least smile and thank our lucky stars for the functioning A/C we will have in the said future.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to eat a hot dish to beat the heat, anyone who lives in hot climates can tell you that heat (temp) and heat (spice) do wonders for cooling the body. Plus, you can only eat so many cold salads. Mr. Foodie wasn’t sure about my scheme to make Low Country Boil when we hardly want to contemplate turning on the stove even for a second let alone the 30+ minutes it takes to make a boil, but he was sufficiently jazzed at the prospect of eating shrimp for dinner. In the end he sat merrily eating each element of the boil with a grin on his face and a sigh of true love aimed in my direction.
There are two main reasons I love Low Country Boil so much.
The first is that it is designed to showcase simple ingredients at their peak of perfection. The new potatoes, ripe corn cobs, plump little shrimps, and (for a little indulgence and kick) bursting wheels of andouille sausage. These individual elements are boiled or steamed in either plain water or a broth-type base and lightly seasoned with Old Bay (at the end!). That’s it. The potatoes are fork tender and tasting new and fresh and creamy. The corn is sweet and bursting with juice. The shrimps are perfectly cooked bites of the sea, coming cleanly away from their little tail shells. The sausage wheels are meaty and spicy. And there to coat or dip or drink from the bowl is the simple broth made from boiling onions, celery, and carrots together with salt and pepper. By the end of the boil, the basic vegetable broth carries a little sweetness from the corn, a little tang from the shrimp, and a little spice from the sausage. Perfection.
The second reason is that Low Country Boil is E.A.S.Y. It is designed to be easy for both a quick family meal or to feed a huge crowd. If you’ve ever been to a shrimp boil, you will remember the huge mound of shrimp, corn, and potatoes spilling out onto the table lined with newspaper. Everyone just serves themselves and the best part is that it is made in one large pot. I believe my family used the turkey fryer one year to boil many pounds of this delicious dish.
For a weeknight meal, you could not ask for an easier recipe. Using cooked sausage, shrimp, and veggies, there is no need to remember to take something out and defrost it for dinner. It is literally all made in the same pot, so no elaborate clean up, and you can use this recipe to clean out your pantry and fridge. Many folks just boil the elements in plain water and season the boiled items liberally with seafood seasoning at the end. This time, I chose to make a kind of flavored stock or broth before boiling everything.
I put the leafy ends off my celery stalk into the pot and threw in some carrots that were about to turn. I quartered a peeled onion and threw that in with enough water to come 3/4 of the way up the pot sides and salt and pepper. I let this come to a boil, then added the potatoes first because they cook the longest. After 10 minutes I added the corn cobs which I had cut into thirds. After 10 more minutes I added the sliced sausage and the partially defrosted cooked shrimp. Because the shrimp were still partially frozen, I added another 10 minutes to the clock so it could return to a boil. If your shrimp are already defrosted, subtract time so that you do not overcook them. When time is up, turn off the heat and ladle some of each ingredient into a bowl, add some of the broth if desired, and sprinkle all with Old Bay. That’s it!
What are your favorite summer recipes? Or tips to beat the heat? We’d love to know!