I’ve learned something very important about New Orleans… I’ve learned that there’s A LOT I don’t know about New Orleans.
This beautiful, majestic, haunted, steamy city I’ve called home for over a year has secrets. Big secrets about past lives and lost loves. Small secrets about where to get the best Sazerac (still tbd) and how to make a stellar seafood boil.
Actually… the seafood boil isn’t a small secret. It’s important.
The secret is heart and soul, guts, care, attention, salt, big ol’ shrimp, and boil seasoning. Mostly heart and soul. That’s the main ingredient. Also… if you have a few salacious secrets, throw those in the boil too. I think that’s why some of these New Orleans boils are so dang spicy.
It’s Summer and whether we’re down in the swamp or not… I think we should boil ourselves some seafood, wave our neighbors over, drink cold beers and spill all of our tea.
Here’s what you’d need for an easy at-home, in the house, where you’ve opened the windows and turned on the fan, Shrimp Boil.
• A huge pot. A big ol’ pot. Dig in those cupboards and wrestle out the big boy.
• Louisiana or Zatarain’s Crawfish Shrimp and Crab Boil Seasoning. We’re going to need about 1/2 cup of boiling seasoning for this recipe. Throw in a little more if you’d like. Wrap it in cheesecloth or throw it in the boil. Just do you. You can also make your own seasoning using a recipe like this: Shrimp Boil Spice Bundle.
• Shrimps and corns and baby red potatoes.
• Salt and pepper. Thyme and lemons. Onions and Garlic. Parsley. Paprika, only the smoky kind will do.
• Some people add mushrooms. Not my deal.
• Andouille Sausage makes a nice addition along with the corn. Super flavorful.
• Water to make a boil a boil.
• Butter to make a boil better.
• Friends. One or two will do. If they bring cold beer, all the better.
• An open window. A warm Summer breeze. A self-congratulatory second helping of shrimp and potatoes on your plate.
• Confidence, because you really are great.
Check the comment section below for other boil ingredient suggestions!
Here’s what I know about a good shrimp boil: it’s takes practice, heart and soul (as mentioned before), and some guts. Just go for it!
Chances are a born and bred Southerner will tell you you’re doing it wrong because theeeeeyyyyy do it a particular way. Fantastic! Invite yourself over to their home for a seafood boil, bring wine, eat too much, and take notes. I think these recipes are best learned through watching, learning, and the osmosis of living.
It’s about building flavors. Adding onions and garlic to water, salt and pepper, seasoning and lemon. That’s a layer. Urging potatoes and corn to soak up all the goodness. That’s another layer. The shrimp will give and take as it absorbs the salty seasoned liquid and releases its ocean-y seafood flavor into the boil. Herbs and lemon for brightness. Butter and paprika to make us feel expensive.
Build flavors in layers. Cook ingredients in layers. Call a friend. Get your hands dirty. Just get in there
- about 4 quarts water
- 2 lemons cut into large wedges (1 for boiling, 1 for serving)
- 1 head of garlic, skin left on, head sliced off to reveal garlic cloves
- 1/2 bag (about 1/2 cup) shrimp, crawfish and crab boil wrapped in cheesecloth and tied
- 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- sea salt
- 1 lb baby red potatoes
- 4 ears corn, husked and broken in half
- 1.25 lbs raw shrimp, unpeeled with legs but no heads
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper for topping
- smoky paprika for topping
- In a large stock pot, combine water, 1 lemon in wedges squeezed into the water, head of garlic, shrimp boil seasoning, onion, thyme, and sea salt (I added about 2 tablespoons to the boil water). Taste the boil liquid as it warms to see that it's salty enough.
- Once boiling, add the potatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the corn pieces and simmer for 5 minutes more.
- Add the unpeeled shrimp and cook until pink throughout and curled, about 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Ladle the garlic, potatoes, corn, and shrimp onto a large rimmed platter. Drizzle with about 1 cup of the boiling liquid and the melted butter. Sprinkle with parsley, paprika, sea salt and black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
- The shrimp boil can be strained and saved for seafood stock! Freeze it up!