Frogmore Stew
May 27, 2008, 4:39 pm
Filed under: in the kitchen

Frogmore stew, also known as Beaufort stew, is basically a localized variation of a seafood boil.  Move around the coastal areas and the seafood will change (shrimp to crawdads to crabs) and so too the supporting cast, but the idea is always the same.  Boil a big pot of water over what is essentially a propane blowtorch, dump in a heapin’ cupful of seasoning, and then start adding your ingredients.  There’s some slight math involved to figure out the order of adding –  what needs to be cooked longest first, shortest last, and last should finish cooking at precisely the point the guests gather round to eat – but that’s about all the brains it takes to turn out what is uniformly an awesome dish.

I want to say I whipped up this batch, but whipped implies ease, and the truth is it was labor (Where to get a turkey fryer stand? A big enough pot? How to afford enough shrimp? Gosh darn it, how do I keep my flame from blowing out in Pacific winds?).  But once past those obstacles, then I just whipped it up.  I’d loosely written down some proportions for the ingredients, based on some internet research, but I eventually realized what I’d written was meaningless and you should put things in in the proportion you want to eat them.  Once that dawned on me, I understood then that I no longer had to wait for crowds of 25 for an excuse to make my favorite seafood meal – I could make it at home in a regular pot on my regular stove in quantities just enough for me.  Hoorah!

But for the record, this is how I made it Monday, and it easily served over twenty hungry hikers:

Start with a 24 quart pot, aluminum or stainless steel, filled 2/3 full with water.

Add two white onions, peeled and cut in half, two lemons, quartered, and a handful of garlic cloves, peeled.  Also add one (normal sized) box of Old Bay seasoning.  Bring to a rapid boil.

Once broth is boiling, add 4 lbs red potatoes, cut in halves or quarters, depending on their size.  Boil potatoes until they *just* reach the point where you can stab them somewhat easily with a fork (don’t overcook them as there’s ten more minutes of boiling in their future).

Add 5 lbs smoked sausage (Hillshire Farm type), cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Boil for 5 minutes.

Add 28-30 corn on the cob halves.  Boil for 5-8 minutes.

Add 8 lbs washed fresh shrimp, deheaded but not peeled.  Turn heat off and let sit for 3 minutes or until all shrimp are pink.

With a large slotted spoon, scoop all ingredients out of the broth into family sized platters, picnic tables covered in newspaper, or directly into waiting guests’ bowls.  Provide the following condiments: ketchup, cocktail sauce, lemon wedges, butter, salt, Tabasco or Texas Pete, fresh cracked pepper, and (potentially) mustard.

Enjoy the heck out of it.

P.S. – It’s an eat-with-your-fingers affair!

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