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Easy Entertaining Tips: Low Country Boil


seafood and fish recipes

You’ve probably attended a Low Country boil. You’ve at least heard of them. They’re very popular here in the South – kind of the South’s version of the clam bake indigenous to “up North.” Like the clam bake, a Low Country boil is a great way to enjoy having friends over for a meal and an enjoyable afternoon or evening. Weve had  numerous Low Country Boils, and I'm not sure I've used the same seafood and fish recipes more than a couple of times. The food is great, and you can spend the allotted time with your guests instead of scurrying around the kitchen. And since everything is cooked in the same big pot, cleaning up after the gathering is a cinch. A Low Country boil should be super-casual, laid-back, relaxing, and fun for everyone – including the hosts!

You’ll need a gas cooker and a large pot with a lid. You’ll also need a large basket for the cooker. A fish fryer or a turkey fryer will suffice. Of course, you’ll be using water instead of oil for cooking. The cooker should be placed on cement, concrete, or stone. Don’t use it on a wooden deck! Set up enough outdoor tables and chairs to seat everyone, and cover the tables with several layers of newspapers. Take a cue from oyster bars and place a roll of paper towels in the center of each table. You’ll also need salt and pepper, garlic salt, cocktail sauce, Louisiana hot sauce, some horseradish, a basket of saltines, paper plates, forks, and some melted butter on each table. Next to the tables, place buckets or trash pails for shells and corn cobs. You might also want to add a box of moist towelettes or baby wipes so your guests can clean their hands after eating, without having to go inside for hand washing.

When you call your pals to invite them to the party, tell them to wear their jeans or shorts. This is definitely NOT a fancy affair! Put some sixties beach tunes or some Jimmy Buffett on the outdoor stereo, and crank it up. Get two of those big inflatable palm trees – the ones that have a cooler at the base - and fill one with ice and beer and the other with ice and soft drinks. Put the palms in a central location so that everyone can help themselves to an icy beverage. If you want to serve wine with the meal, choose Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Vinho Verde, or Chenin Blanc.

Don’t start cooking until everyone gets there. Part of the fun is standing and sitting around watching the pot boil (kidding).

Here’s what you’ll need for 12 people:

4 pounds small red potatoes

5 tablespoons seafood seasoning

3 whole bay leaves

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons red pepper

1 quart beer

1 pint apple cider vinegar

4 lemons, quartered

4 limes, quartered

12 ears corn, shucked, silked, and cut in half

3 pounds smoked hot sausage, cut into 3-inch lengths

5 pounds large raw shrimp, with shells on and heads removed

Place the potatoes in basket and lower them into the cooker. Add 5 quarts of water, vinegar, and the beer. Add the seasoning and the lime and lemon slices. Bring to a rolling boil and place the lid on the pot. Boil for 7 minutes or until potatoes are just beginning to get soft on the edges. Add the sausage links and the corn, and cook for 13 more minutes with the lid on. Add the shrimp carefully and stir. Cover and cook for 5 or 6 more minutes, until the shrimp turn pink. Using a glove or an oven mitt, remove the basket from the water and divide the food evenly among the tables – right onto the newspapers. No serving platters needed!

If you’re feeding more than 12 people, do a second cooking.

You can add other ingredients to the boil, too. Crab legs, crab claws, lobster tails, broccoli, or whole crabs are all great as part of a Low Country boil. Just remember that you’ll need plenty of shrimp - at least 1/3 pound for each guest, plus a little extra.

When everyone has finally finished eating, just refrigerate any leftovers (should there be any), gather up the newspapers, and wipe the tables with a Clorox wipe. Throw the soiled newspapers in a trashcan lined with a plastic bag. Close the bag and secure it with a twist tie. You won’t like the aroma the next day.

A great traditional dessert for a seafood meal is key lime pie. Lemon meringue pie, lemon squares, lime squares, and lemon icebox pie are all a good finish for boiled shrimp, too. A tart lemon or lime sorbet would also be a good choice if the weather is warm.

If you're in the market for an outdoor cooker, check out the ones below. You can also use these for frying turkeys!

Also, for more tips about seafood and outdoor cooking, click the article links below the outdoor cookers.

Super casual, super fun and easy!

Super casual, super fun and easy!

The cooker: a must-have for easy entertaining!

The cooker: a must-have for easy entertaining!

Cookers for shrimp:

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Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 02, 2011:

Filly, a low country boil is a hoot!

Fill Your Heart Edible Memories from USA on January 26, 2011:

What a fun idea! I have a big family and this would go over big. Thanks!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 04, 2010:

Come on down, Patricia!

Patricia Rae from Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada on September 25, 2010:

Oh, habee.....that sound so good. I live in Canada, but vacation down south and love eating that "Low Country" food.....Can't wait to try your recipe.

Thanks for writing.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on July 10, 2010:

MM, fried turkey is a winner, for sure! but the Low Country boil is, too!

Make Money from Ontario on July 06, 2010:

Once in a while my brother has a wild life dinner at his place. This could include venison stew, fried duck with onions and peppers, venison sausage, a moose roast or venison or moose steaks. Always more than enough with a good variety. But my favorite is wild turkey cooked in oil in one of those same gas cookers. It's excellent. The moistest best tasting turkey I ever had. I don't think he's used his gas cooker for anything other than wild turkey, so I'll have to tell him about this Low Country Boil. Thanks habee. Mike

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