Saturday, April 14, 2007

Frogmore Stew...

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?

Frogmore Stew


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.

Serving it up...


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.

Frogmore Stew


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???

6 comments:

autum said...

No frogs in there, huh?
It looks yummy.

MéLisa said...

Oh LLA why must you torture me sooooo! That looks an awful lot like the crawfish & crab boils that we have down at John’s cousin Cathy’s outside Naw’lins. Sigh how I miss that yearly jaunt….. I might have to give this one a try though. Do you think that shelled ship would work too? (I already have some of those in the freezer)

beki said...

Gosh, now I want boiled shrimp! I was just thinking, this is how we boil everything, especially crawfish. The potatoes and corn are so good that way. Good stuff!!

laeroport said...

Yum! My co-worker, a lovley woman who spent many a year living in Atlanta, often cooks up a gourmet lunch for the whole office in the summer. And on more than one occassion it has been frogmore stew. So good.

Katkat said...

Yum if only shellfish liked me as much as I like them. (sigh)

bekka said...

i'm so glad i sent you that postcard then. i can't say i've ever made a recipe that appeared on a post card, but i sure like to look at them for inspiration. will have to check out the cooking light recipe and see about making that myself. trouble is that ian won't eat any kind of seafood, so i'd have to make a mess of it myself and eat it all myself. will try link for CL and i guess there, it had all the nutritional information? we're dieting. and that's so hard. makes life so impossible and i feel like i'm starving all the time, but soups and stews are usually diet friendly.

and tonight? i'm really gonna dig out the lles brothers cookbook and dig into it!

speaking of moon pies... after reigstering and picking up my tote bag and materials at TLA/Chattanooga last week, i looked inside my bag and what did I find? A MOON PIE! but i didn't eat it. and it was so squashed it wasn't like i was sending it on to you. i left it in the bag. just in case. like if i hadn't eaten in hours and needed a quick fix i ate a scoop of ice cream at clumpies instead.