First: the big pot. There is something truly satisfying and virile about cooking with an enormous, round, cauldron-like vessel. (Some insight into my soul: I don't watch football on Sundays, I don't like cars with big engines, and I don't own a single power tool...so cooking in big pots is one of the few ways I can get in touch with my inner hombre.) Second, the boil frees us from the boundaries of the normal, "civilized" dining experience. The boil scoffs at serving dishes, preferring instead to be dumped unceremoniously onto the middle of a picnic table. This dish laughs at plates - those unnecessary middlemen that impede the food's journey to our mouths. The boil sneers at forks, spoons, and knives, electing instead to be devoured by the most efficient, crab-tearing, shell-peeling, potato-picking, corn-on-the-cob-holding tool of them all: one's own hands (disclaimer: you might have noticed plates in these photos. Those were completely unnecessary additions to the meal, insisted upon by the X-chromosomes at the table).
This leads to the third reason this dish is so fun to make: it brings people together. Dinner can be a sterile, disconnected occasion (although never so in this household!), where dining tables are long and pristine, utensils clink and scrape against fine china, and the entire dining process is governed by rules of traditional etiquette. The boil, on the other hand, is meant for sharing, grabbing, poking, cracking, peeling, sifting, and devouring...all in very close proximity to your fellow diners.
So put away your china, crystal, and silverware...it's time to get down and dirty with a Low Country Boil!
Ingredients (Serves 6)
(Note: feel free to add or remove ingredients. This recipe is designed for substituting or spicing-up and down as desired)
Water - enough to cover the contents of the pot
Old Bay Seasoning - 1/2 cup
Crab Boil Seasoning Packet - 2 packets of Zatarain's
Salt - 1 cup
Hot Sauce - 1/2 cup
Hot Sauce - 1/2 cup
1 Large Yellow Onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, chopped horizontally
2 lemons, halved
3/4 lb. red potatoes
3/4 lb. Yukon gold potatoes
4 ears of corn, shucked and halved
1 lb. mushrooms
1 lb. brussel sprouts
1 lb. asparagus
4 Alaskan King Crab Legs
4 bratwursts, halved
1.5 lbs. prawns, shell-on
As mentioned above, you will need a big pot. A 4-gallon pot would be ideal for this size boil. If you don't have that big of a pot, you can cook it in batches, or in multiple pots.
1. Boil the water.
2. It is best to pre-cook the bratwurst, which gives the sausage a nice caramelized look and taste. While the water is heating up, cut the bratwurst into halves and cook at medium heat until browned (about 5 minutes). When the bratwursts are done, set aside and let them cool.
3. Begin chopping the veggies.
4. When the water is boiling, put in all the seasonings (including the garlic) and the potatoes. Boil for 7 minutes.
5. Put the rest of the veggies in, except the asparagus. Also put the sausages in the pot. Boil for 7 minutes.
6. Put the asparagus, crab, and prawns in. Boil for about 5 minutes. Try not to overcook the seafood...5 minutes should be plenty.
7. Remove from heat. Drain the water.
8. Cover the dining table with newspaper, then lay out a strip of parchment paper. Dump the contents of the pot onto the parchment paper - and begin the feast!