Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seafood Boil

While this seafood boil doesn't involve any of the delicious produce we receive from Orchard Pond Organics, it is a favorite of friend and family alike. It's so easy, in fact, that I generally feel guilty for accepting any credit: Florida fresh seafood makes this dish what it is - Outstanding! (Admittedly, having access to high-quality seafood is also a luxury. The selection below cost $75 here plus $25 more of the other ingredients. I know it would be much more expensive in other locations.)
To be fair, it also is not a boil but rather a "seafood steam." It requires little effort, but does work best if you stage the items as described.
The Method
seafoodpotPurchase a very large steamer pot. (I use a stainless steel pot, which holds 3...maybe 4 gallons.)  imageYou also need something to keep the food off the bottom of the pot during cooking. I use a folding steamer basket.  This works well in pots of varying diameters.

  1. Buy an assortment of seafood items (and accompaniments). Here is a typical list, serving 6 adults and 2 children:
    • 2-3# large wild shrimp (in the shell)
    • 1 doz. clams
    • 1 bag of mussels
    • 8 medium stone crab claws (in season)
    • 8 Alaskan King crab legs (these can be "steamed" in the microwave - thank you, Alton Brown, for saving me space in the pot).
    • 4 ears of corn (in the husk)
    • 6-8 new red potatoes, washed but unpeeled
    • 1-2# sausage (I use turkey kielbasa, andouille, and/or linguisa.)
    • 1 large onion, quartered
    • 1 box (bag) Zatarain's Crab Boil image(I have made my own several times with equally good effect.)
    • Two bottles of good, dark beer (I generally use Sam Adams or Bass. I would not use a porter or other high-sugar content beer, as it may burn or impart too strong-a-flavor to the seafood.)
    • You will also want a measure of good, unsalted butter, ketchup and horseradish (or just buy cocktail sauce), lemons, crab crackers (for the shells), napkins, and several large platters.

  2. A word of advice: you will be working inside a steaming pot during several steps. Be careful.
  3. First, place the spice packet into the pot and cover with the beer.
  4. Set the steamer basket on top. (You can also use a plate or pie tin set upon a ramekin, etc.)
  5. Shuck the corn - setting aside the husks for later. Add the potatoes.
  6. Bring pot to a boil. (Keep at a high boil throughout.) Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the quartered onion and sausages.
  8. Cover with the corn husks.
  9. Cook another 10 minutes.  husks sausage
  10. Add the stone crab claws (and King Crab, if not microwaving). Cook 5 minutes.
  11. Add the shrimp and clams.
  12. Squeeze the juice of two lemons over the shrimp. Leave the lemon rinds in the pot. Cook until the shrimp just begin to turn pink (about 5 minutes).
  13. Add the mussels.
  14. Cook another 5-10 minutes, or until the mollusks open completely. fullpot
  15. Seek assistance of 2-3 friends to remove pot from stove. It will be heavy!
  16. Remove the items to several platters for serving.
The Results
Unadulterated seafood bliss. The beer imparts a little flavor, mainly to the corn and potatoes.  I set ramekins of melted butter (with a little lemon juiced added) around the table, along with homemade cocktail sauce. Everyone fends for themselves - although the Junior Chefs generally need some help with cracking the crab.
You can keep leftovers from this. The mussels reheat well within a day or two; toss them with some pasta, Parmesan, and a little butter. Shrimp...well, there are plenty of ways to eat those. [Does anyone else's Blackberry leave lines in your photos?]remains

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009