A Shrimp Boil is Surprisingly Delicious!
When Black Gold Farms hired me to come up with a Shrimp Boil Recipe I was excited about the fun concept but was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like the boiled food. I was so wrong.
Has a food ever surprised you? Has something that you expected to just be so-so (or even kind of dreadful) ever turned out to be crazy delicious?
When we moved from Toronto to Florida we couldn’t take our alcohol with us. We chose a few special bottles and with the rest, we had a farewell party that nobody could ever forget.
They couldn’t forget it because it was fun. And because it was flavored with Pimm’s.
You see, my husband is British. In Britain, a lot of young ladies sip on a strange liqueur called Pimm’s. When my in-laws fly over to see us, they often stop at the Duty Free and buy me a bottle of Pimm’s. But since nobody in North America drinks the stuff, the bottles had gone mostly unopened. Thus the Pimm’s flavored party.
Here’s the thing about Pimms and lemon-lime soda (the way it is often consumed): It tastes like cola that’s gone flat.
But in a good way.
And that’s exactly how I described it in my invitation to our party: “Get ready to try Pimm’s and 7-up! Don’t worry. You’ll like it. It tastes like flat Coke, but in a good way.”
Everyone who came to our party was excited to give it a try. But they were all skeptical. I mean, how could flat cola be good? And yet, after tasting it every single one of them said, “Oh yeah. You’re right! It tastes like flat coke. But in a good way.” And then they’d look into their drink with a puzzled expression and taste it again, nod their heads at the glass and then sit back to chat.
That Pimm’s flavored night was a good one. I was reminded of it recently when Black Gold Farms hired me to use their glorious red potatoes in a Shrimp Boil Recipe. I thought, “A Shrimp Boil, huh? Never had that before. How could all that stuff boiled together possibly be good?”
I was game though because the whole concept of a shrimp boil sounded like fun. I loved the idea of lining the table (or yard!) with newspaper and emptying big pots of food onto it. Festive, right? So while I wasn’t super-keen on the boiled food idea, I was beyond excited about the fun my family would have eating it.
I lined our kitchen table with plastic garbage bags and newspaper. I gave everyone a paper plate and then tipped the pot into the middle of us all. The kids giggled hysterically at their mommy dumping food directly onto the table. And they loved using big tongs to reach in and grab what they wanted.
So I was right about the fun. But I was wrong that the boiled food aspect of a shrimp boil would be bad. It was delicious!
The corn was sweet. The red potatoes were vibrant and had soaked up extra flavors from the cooking liquid. The shrimp were tender and juicy. The chunks of onions (which I had only included to flavor the broth) were gobbled up by the kids and us parents alike. The whole cloves of garlic that I included were soft and we squeezed them onto everything like a condiment. And the sausage. Boiled sausage? Goooooood! It had added its flavor to everything and so, when you bit into the sausage itself, it matched up with all the other mouthfuls and made you drool for another bite of everything.
I’ve made the shrimp boil a bunch of times now, for my parents, for friends and again just for the four of us. Every single time everyone has had so much fun and has gushed about how delicious it all is.
As much as Pimm’s surprised my friends at our farewell party, I was surprised by the amazingness of a shrimp boil. And now I’m going to share this surprisingly delicious shrimp boil recipe with you.
If you love an easy seafood boil, be sure to also check out my recipe for a low country crawfish boil.
Now, let’s make this shrimp boil recipe:
Don't let the long-ish list of ingredients here fool you: This recipe is easy! You basically just throw everything into a pot (but not all at the same time! Read the instructions!). There's very little chopping or cutting or any kind of prep involved.
- 2 whole lemons, plus 2 more lemons cut into wedges for serving
- 12 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 large onions, peeled and quartered (I use sweet ones, like Vidalia)
- 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
- 1 tbsp hot sauce, plus more for serving
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp salt
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 big handful fresh dill, divided
- 2 and 1/2 lbs whole small red potatoes, larger potatoes cut in half
- 16 ounces kielbasa, cut into 12-16 pieces
- 16 ounces whole white mushrooms
- 6 cobs of corn, shucked and broken in half
- 3 lbs large (count: 31-35/lb) easy-peel deveined shrimp, leave the shells on
- 3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
- Fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water. Cut the whole lemons in half. Squeeze the juice into the water and add the squeezed lemon halves as well. Add the garlic, onion, mustard, 1 tablespoon hot sauce, bay leaves and salt. Tie the thyme and half of the dill into a bouquet using kitchen twine. Add it to the water. Stir well. Cover and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes. Cover and cook until they’re just tender, 9-10 minutes. Add the kielbasa, mushrooms and corn. Cook covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook covered until pink, 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the remaining dill fronds.
- Scoop out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the butter to the liquid and stir until it melts. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp, sausage and vegetables to a large platter. Discard the herb bouquet. Drizzle with the butter mixture.
- To Serve: Cover a table with newspaper. Pile the shrimp, sausage and vegetables right on top, or leave everything on the platter. Sprinkle with the chopped dill. Put out the lemon wedges and hot sauce. Squeeze the garlic cloves from the skin as a condiment as well. Make sure there are a lot of napkins on hand before you dig in!
A wine-pairing for the shrimp boil recipe: Beer is pretty traditional. You could even do big jugs of a citrus white wine sangria (by Brown Eyed Baker). But if you, like me, prefer to stick to straight-up wine with festive dinners, I’d stick with white wine (even though there’s hearty sausage in the dish) and I would stay with something dry like an Italian Pinot Grigio or Australian Sauvignon Blanc. If you don’t mind going there, a dry Riesling (whcih will still be off-dry) would be gorgeous too. Check out this list of 5 great summer shellfish wines from Food and Wine.
Looking for more Seafood Boil Recipes? Here are a few to check out:
A Seafood Boil with Shrimp, Lobster, Mussels and Clams by The Man Cooks
Cajun Shrimp Boil by Ezra Pound Cake
Seafood Boil with Lemon, Live, Basil and Thyme by Kalofagas
17 Responses to “A Shrimp Boil is Surprisingly Delicious!”
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