Let’s take a look at the “alleged” history of this one-pot wonder and then we’ll go into how you can fill a picnic table full of seafood, sausage, potatoes and corn to impress and feed friends and family.
Like the origin of any classic dish the history of the Low Country Boil is as foggy as early morning in the “Low Country” itself. One story simply has it that shrimpers in Beaufort, South Carolina invented it by throwing what was available into a pot. Another story has it that a National Guardsman used leftovers to make a big pot of food to feed 100 of his fellow soldiers. It took so well that he brought the recipe back to his home community of Frogmore and starting putting copies of the recipe in his seafood market and sold the ingredients.
Whatever the history may be deliciousness of the meal, the ease with which to prepare and cook it, and the fellowship, entertainment and visual value has made it spread to regions across the country well beyond the Low Country itself.
A note about the Low Country and Low Country cuisine
Liberal geographers consider the Low Country to be virtually any area of coastal South Carolina and coastal Georgia. This makes what’s considered “Low Country Cuisine” quite different than traditional Southern food. I’d describe it closer to Cajun cooking, with it’s focus on seafood, spices, and Caribbean influence, than southern home cooking.
The Traditional (and still the best) Low Country Boil
What other meal can you throw 5 basic ingredients (timing is the only hassle) in a big pot, boil it, spread out newspapers on picnic table, and satisfy, and impress, dozens of friends?
Here’s how to serve a dozen soon to be raving fans of your cooking. Bigger crowd just means bigger pot!
The traditional dish consists of 5 simple ingredients (in the order they go in the pot!):
- 6 Table Spoons of Old Bay Seasoning
- 4 Pounds of Small Red Potatos
- 6 Ears of Fresh Corn- cut these in half
- 2 Pounds of Sausage- for me it’s the spicier the better but Kielbasa works just fine
- 4 Pounds of Fresh Shrimp
Ingredients are simple, now just have to get the timing right so you don’t under cook the potatoes or worse…overcook the shrimp!
Put 1 1/2 Gallons of Water in a big pot that will handle everything described above. Start it towards boiling. While it’s heating up put in the Old Bay Seasoning and Potatoes. Let the water get to a boil for 5 minutes and then add the Corn and Sausage. Get it boiling for another 10 minutes and add the shrimp. The shrimp will only take 3 to 4 minutes to cook.
Drain (even better to cook in a drainer), pour everything out on newspapers or a large tray, and serve with plenty of cocktail sauce and lemons.
As you can imagine there are many varieties of the Low Country Boil. The crawfish boil of Louisiana fame is one. You can certainly add to or substitute many ingredients. Fresh Crab or even Lobster Tails, different kinds of spices, chopped onions, have fun experimenting.
What To Drink
For a traditional southern Low Country Boil I prefer a Jon Boat Ale from Intuition Ale Works (local brewery in Jacksonville) but any cool ale will be a nice accompaniment on a hot Summer day.