Low Country Boil is one special dinner every home cook should try at least once! And if you try it, believe me, you will make it again and again! It’s so delicious and more of an event than a meal! I’ve mastered the art of the low country boil and can’t wait to share my secrets with you!
Today’s post is long. Because it is a hold-your-hand-and-walk-you-through-the-process post! A Low Country Boil is probably the most memorable meal you will ever make. It is really unforgettable delicious and so very casually perfect! I hope you make it and share it with others!
WHAT IS A LOW COUNTRY BOIL
Low Country Boil goes by other names such as Beaufort Boil, Tidewater Boil, and Frogmore Stew (but there isn’t any frog in it). It’s the south’s counterpoint to the New England Clambake! And it is just so darn fabulously succulent!
The Low Country part of the boil pays homage to that glorious part of South Carolina that sits along the cost and is rich in its seafood and culture!
I’m a huge fan of the Lowcountry and have visited many times! I love Charleston, Hilton Head and Tybee Island but I left a piece of my heart in Savannah and it’s surrounding countryside! True Lowcountry!
I have always said that going to Savannah was like finding the Mothership!!!!! Christmas and spring are my favorite times of the year to spend in Savannah! Even though it is my favorite small city (outside of Lancaster) I don’t go in the summer. “It’s so hot the gnats stick to your lipgloss,” one native Savannahian told me! Point taken!
Let’s get back to the subject at hand. Really no one knows the exact history behind the LCB. There are many areas in the south that claims it as it’s own.
But here’s the facts…
A low country boil celebrates the gifts of the sea! It is a mix of seafood and potatoes and corn with sausage thrown in for flavor!
And here’s another fact…
An LCB is a messy, juice-dripping-down-your-arms, full-on sensory meal! It is meant to be enjoyed. The whole beautiful mess! So wear old clothes, use tons of paper towels and eat with joyful wild abandon!!!!
HOW I MAKE A LOW COUNTRY BOIL
I’ve been making this event-of-a-meal for decades. Usually, I make it with
- kielbasa (my Hungarian heritage puts a bit of a spin on it)
And the entire meal permeates with the taste of Old Bay or Zatarain’s crab boil seasoning.
It’s served with lots of lemons, clarified butter and cocktail sauce.
But an LCB can be made with different combinations of seafood. When I can find lobster tails on sale I add a few of them to the mix too!
The star of this meal is the seafood! Get the best you can afford! This is an unforgettable meal!
This is a meal that makes you feel blessed!
I made an LCB for a family get together just last weekend. It fed eight people with about 8 shrimp and 2 potatoes for leftovers! Yes, my family really loved it! We all left the table stuffed and oh, so happy!
LCB THE EASY WAY
Because this recipe has lots of different food that go into a pot to boil it’s all about being organized and paying attention to the timing!
The usual way to make a Low Country Boil is to throw everything into a huge pot in order of their cooking time. Longest cooking time goes in first! And once the process starts it goes quickly! Everything cooks in about 20 minutes!
Often an LCB is cooked on a propane burner outside and in a HUGE pot! Well, I don’t have a pot that big! And I’m cooking everything inside!
I like to cook an LCB in two stock pots. So much easier to time manage and handle!
And I like to have all my ingredients lined up and ready to go!
Hey friend, just a disclaimer… I was taking pictures while I was getting things ready for our boil with eight hungry and excited people waiting! So I took them in quite a hurry! Sorry, these images aren’t my best work. But the boil is!
A LOOK AT EACH INGREDIENT
All the ingredients can be prepped a little bit ahead of time. The seafood I used was frozen fresh so I took it out of the freezer and laid it in their plastic bags on dishtowels on my kitchen counter to thaw. If that makes you nervous then defrost the seafood in the frig and keep it there until it is ready to go into the pot.
First, I washed a bag of small yellow potatoes and set them aside on a small platter. Actually, I set everything that went into the boil on a platter or in a bowl.
It’s important to use small potatoes. You want them to boil and be fork tender in about 20 minutes.
Next, Mom husked six ears of corn and I cut them into thirds.
This was the first corn of the season in our area. I’m VERY skeptical of the first corn of the season. But to my surprise and delight, it was wonderfully sweet and juicy! Yay!!! I love it when all the ingredients are perfectly perfect!
Now, let’s talk seafood!
I like a mix of Alaskan King Crab and Snow Crab. Mostly because King Crab is way too expensive when feeding a crowd!
I bought 2 pounds of Alaskan King Crab and 4 pounds of snow crab.
As long as the crab is fresh or has been frozen fresh and not freezer burned it should taste sweet! Cooking it till it is just done and not overdone will guarantee delicious crab!
And the crab we ate was soooo sweet and tender!
To make getting the meat from the Alaskan King crab easier to get out of the legs, I chopped the legs apart at the joints and cut up the length of each carapace (shell) along its white side with a pair of kitchen scissors.
Alaskan King crab is a bear to get into. And cutting it apart and splitting the carapace makes eating the delicious, sweet meat so much easier!
For this Low Country Boil, I used the biggest shrimp I could find. They were deveined with the shell on. Score! So easy to peel and eat!
I bought 6 pounds of 8-12 count shrimp. My son Christopher loves shrimp. And I did not want him to be shortchanged!
If you can, save all the shrimp shells and crab carcass before they go into the trash. I ask everyone to put them into a shell bowl. And then I put them in a freezer bag and eventually will make seafood stock. It is just scrumptious!
It’s feels so good not to waste anything!
The sausage for a Low Country Boil is usually spicy, like andouille, but we love kielbasa so that’s what I used. Whatever sausage you use make sure it is a cured, smoked sausage.
I used a 12-oz package of Polish Kielbasa. I could have probably used more.
Usually, the sausage is thrown into the pot along with all the other ingredients but here’s where I off-road a bit. I think when the sausage is boiled, a good deal of the flavor leaches out into the water. Yes, it does flavor the water which flavors the whole pot, but I find it diminishes the amazing flavor of the sausage.
So I cut the sausage for the Low Country Boil into individual-size servings and brown it in a large pan all by itself.
This can be done a little ahead and the sausage set aside.
Clarified butter is a beautiful thing! It can be kept in the frig and used for cooking as you would regular butter. But, because the milk solids and water are removed it has a higher smoke point. And it tastes glorious!
One pound of unsalted butter (2 cups) will make about 1 1/2 cups of clarified butter.
We use clarified butter to dip the crabmeat in. Please don’t just melt butter! It’s too salty and can taste bitter if overcooked. Why ruin the taste of that beautiful expensive crab by dipping it into regular melted butter?
Make the clarified butter ahead of time and keep in the frig. Then warm it gently before serving in individual little bowls.
Here’s a great video to show you how easy it is to clarify butter…
Believe me, you will be addicted to clarified butter to use in cooking if you make it once!
LOW COUNTRY BOIL COCKTAIL SAUCE
PLEASE make homemade cocktail sauce. It’s really a no-brainer to make and you can adjust the kick and heat to your liking!
Here’s how I make it…
For every 1/2 cup of ketchup, I added 2TBS (a little more for me) of horseradish, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, the juice of one lemon, and a couple dashes of hot sauce. Mix and refrigerate. This can be made a couple days in advance.
Done and seriously good!
LOTS OF LEMONS
We love the tang of lemons so we use them liberally. For each pot of boiling water, I squeeze two lemons and throw the juice and the spent lemons into it too!
I also quarter a few lemons so we can squeeze that gorgeous juice all over the seafood! It really brightens up the favors of this meal.
Don’t pick out the lemon seeds beforehand. Everyone does it themselves. That’s part of the charm of the boil!
QUINTESSENTIAL LOW COUNTRY BOIL SEASONING
I’m a northern girl who is a southern girl wanna be! In our area Old Bay seasoning reigns supreme for all things seafood! But I know that in the south Zaterain’s Crab Boil seasoning is most often used.
I’ve never compared the two so I can’t tell you which flavor is better.
For each pot of boiling water I add 1/2-1 cup of seasoning. Because my little granddaughter was enjoying her first Low Country Boil I kept the seasoning mild.
We threw a bottle of beer into each pot of water just because we can! You know everything tastes better flavored with a little beer!
ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT OF A LOW COUNTRY BOIL
Here are a few things that will make cooking your LOW COUNTRY BOIL easier.
I used two big stockpots. One is 12 quarts and the other is 8. I find 2 stock pots are far less cumbersome than one big one. And you can take ingredients out of the pots so much easier when they are done. Just trust me on this one!
A strainer with a handle works perfectly for adding ingredients to the boiling water and also for taking ingredients out! No burns, please!
Big, big platters and serving bowls come in handy to take the LCB to the table.
Brown paper or newspaper works great to cover your table. At the end of a meal all the shells, cobs, and dirty paper towels can be rolled up and thrown away.
This is my kind of clean-up! If you want to make seafood stock put the shells and crab carcass in a separate bowl. Haven’t I said that a few times already?
And don’t forget the paper towels. No napkins at this meal. Have a roll of paper towels front and center on the table!
It’s also a good idea to have a trash can lined with a garbage bag ready! This meal makes lots of messy trash!
Here are a few other things that are nice to have but not essential…
- mallets for cracking crab
- small bowls for clarified butter
- forks and knives for cutting the potatoes and sausage (such a northern move)
- the best country playlist for listening and singing to while you eat
THE PROPER WAY TO SERVE A LOW COUNTRY BOIL
Our favorite way to eat a Low Country Boil is to take it outside and dump the entire boil (minus the water) down the center or our picnic table that has been covered with layers of brown paper.
Instead of a plate we fold several layers of newspaper at each place setting.
We just take what we want with our fingers and eat it on the newspaper! All the shells, cobs and any other trash goes on the newspaper and then get rolled up and thrown into the trash before we take more.
I think this is one of the great joys of summer!
THE ALTERNATIVE WAY TO SERVE A LOW COUNTRY BOIL
Sadly, due to the threat of thunderstorm we had our LCB indoors. But we made the best of it! Four generations enjoyed the boil!
The picture above shows my little granddaughter Emma Kate at her first Low Country Boil. She really loved it! Her favorite food was corn. I’m looking forward to making her brother who will arrive in late July/early August his first Low Country Boil someday too!
I put the entire contents of the boil onto two large platters and we ate on our everyday plates.
Two big bowls were set on the table and reserved for all the trash. And another bowl for all the shells.
NOW LET’S MAKE A LOW COUNTRY BOIL!
LOW COUNTRY BOIL
- 2 large stock pots
- 8 fresh lemons 4 juiced, juice and spent lemons reserved and 4 quartered
- 2 bottles beer
- 1-2 cups Old Bay or Zaterain's seasoning
- 12 oz cured, smoked sausage
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 2 pounds potatoes small and yellow
- 6-8 ears corn husked and cut into thirds
- 2 pounds ALASKAN KING CRAB cut at the joints and carapace split lengthwise with kitchen scissors.
- 4 pounds snow crab
- 4-6 pounds shrimp larger is better
- 1 pound butter unsalted
- 1 cup ketchup
- 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 4 TBS horseradish
- juice of 2 lemons
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- Prep all the ingredients going into the boil. Scrub the potatoes, husk and cut the corn, if needed cut the crab into individual pieces and split the carapace lengthwise to make it easier to get the cooked crab out. Also rinse the shrimp.
- Add water to fill two stock pots 2/3 full and bring to a boil. Divide the lemon juice between the two pots and the spent lemon also. Add Old Bay seasoning and a bottle of beer to each pot.
- While the water is coming to a boil, cut the sausage into individual size pieces and brown them in a large pan with olive oil. When they are browned on all sides put into a bowl and set them aside.
- Add the potatoes to the boiling water of pot #1. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Add the corn to pot #1 after the potatoes have boiled for 10 minutes.
- After the corn has cooked for 10 minutes add the Alaskan King Crab to pot #2.
- Check to see if the potatoes are fork tender. If so, remove to a large platter. If not continue to boil until fork tender then remove.
- After the crab as boiled for 5 minutes add the shrimp to pot #2 with the crab.
- Remove the corn from pot #1 to the large platter with the potatoes
- After 5 minutes check to see if the crab and shrimp are done. Don't overcook! Remove to the large platter or platters.
- Arrange the elements of the boil including the sausage and lemons on the platters and serve immediately.
- Making the clarified butter can be done ahead and refrigerated. See post for how to clarify butter video. Warm the butter before serving.
- The cocktail sauce can be made ahead. Mix ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, lemon juice, and hot sauce together in a bowl. Refrigerate.
- Serve with lots of paper towels!
If you want a meal that your family or friends will remember for years I hope you will make a Low Country Boil! It is a life event and a special bonding meal!
I’m offering you this recipe with all the foodie love I have!
You might like these recipes to compliment your LOW COUNTRY BOIL…