While on her recent jaunt to St. Simons Island, the always delightful Bekka was thoughtful enough to send me a postcard:
And that was all it took to get the wheels turning...
It got me to thinking about one of my good friends from college - a sweetie by the name of Loretta from Beaufort, SC. One of the biggest things that she anticipated about returning "home" during school breaks was a big meal of what she called "Frogmore Stew." She described it in poetic language; as nothing less than the world's most perfect food.
Alas - in college, I was not so very interested in food. So I filed her comments away in a dusty part of my brain, and didn't really give it much thought. Besides, with a name like that, it didn't really sound particularly appetizing to me.
I think I had a vague suspicion that there were frogs in it or somesuch...
But Bekka's postcard got me wondering - this "Low Country* Boil" sounded a lot like Loretta's Frogmore Stew???
Some research was definitely called for...
I immediately turned to The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, which has been a real fave of mine lately. These boys can write, and they can cook, and they combine these two interests amazingly well...
If you enjoy cooking (or simply reading beautifully written cookbooks), if you are interested in the South and/or its cuisine, or if you just enjoy a good story (because its pages are peppered with them) then this book needs to be on your "Must Read" list. But I'm wandering off-topic... Shocking!
The brothers Lee did not let me down - they explained that "Lowcountry Boil" is another name for Frogmore Stew. And no matter what you call it, it is the ultimate one-pot meal. Ingredients vary due to personal preference, and what you have on hand - but almost always include: shell-on shrimp, sausage, crab, corn, potatoes - all of which simmer in a heavily seasoned broth.
Not only did they give me a great explanation - they gave me an amazing sounding recipe.
Unfortunately for me, as many of you know I've been indulging in the MoonPie habit a little too frequently these days. And, to put it simply, it's not been kind to me. So, a little research was done to see if I could find an alternate version. One that might not do too much damage.
I found a recipe at Cooking Light - and decided to give it a whirl...
One quick trip to the store to pick up corn and shrimp, and I was in business.
Into the big stockpot went 3 quarts of water, with lots of salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, thyme and mashed garlic cloves added. Add to that a couple of bottles of beer, some bay leaves and an onion, cut into large wedges. Once boiling - I added about a pound of diced red potato, half a pound of low fat smoked sausage, two ears of shucked corn and a pound of unpeeled shrimp. That's all there was to it... Very low maintenance - although I did have to keep an eye on it, because every few minutes a new ingredient would need to be added to the pot. (The cooking times vary, so you add the potato first so it can cook the longest, then the sausage, etc.)
It's not the prettiest looking thing while it cooks, is it?
In keeping with the easy-peasy theme of fixing up a whole mess of this stuff - serving it is to be a casual affair as well. Ideally, you serve it outside and just dump the drained contents of the pot directly out onto a newspaper covered tabletop. Since it's been cold here lately, and we were eating inside, I opted to drain it and then dump it out on a big communal platter.
Now - the real test. I plunked the platter down on the table, strew a few bowls around for discarding the shrimp shells and corn cobs, and waited for everyone to dig in.
And dig in they did! This was a huge hit with everyone. Bekka, Loretta and the Lee Brothers all know a good thing - and I thank them for sharing...
I can tell that this is going to be in heavy rotation at the House That Crazy Built this summer.
NOTE: The recipe ** was designed to serve 8. I halved the main ingredients, thinking that would cut it down for 4. However, with only 3 of us, I got two whole meals out of it - bonus! And, lazy me, I didn't even reheat it the second night, and it was still awesome served up cold.
*"Low Country" is used to describe South Carolina's southernmost coastal counties (think Charleston, and the surrounding environs...)
**I'll provide this link, but am not sure it will work for everyone - you may have to subscribe to the magazine???