It’s not seasonal affective disorder, though I’ve had enough of Winter 2011. The glutton in me is jonesing for a seafood boil. My co-worker Melissa and I have already started talking about this year’s version. She hosted my first in 2009, a drunken spectacle that saw her take a spectacular header in her hallway and, somehow, me being the only one sober enough to handle the cooking duties. We had to skip 2010 as The Wife was preggo, but let me tell you how I’m so very looking forward to this year’s version.
Crawfish are delicious, but highly labor intensive and really expensive to import to the Northeast. This is a little more accessible and, if I were up for the mess, something I could do inside. The truth is that this boil is really made for an outdoor boiler, where the Old Bay-flavored fish broth can splash all over and be hosed down later.
The 2009 boil was done in a turkey fryer using crab legs, shrimp, scallops, clams and lobster tails. I’m not a big fan of lobster to begin with, but it is almost wasted in this form. The sweetness you expect from lobster gets overwhelmed by the garlic, Old Bay, andouille, lemon and other fish flavors. Conversely, the shrimp and crab legs taste terrific.
The boil is best served on a picnic table with a tarp draped over it. The 2009 version saw us inside due to rain, so we ate out of copy-paper box tops lined with newspaper. Just as good, really, and no worry about hosing off the tarp for the purpose of reusing it later. Everything went into the recycling bin.
Anyhow, I’m pulling for third or fourth weekend of June. By then, the stock of clams and crab at Hinderwadel’s Grove should be top notch.
The Seafood Boil
- 6-8 quarts of water
- 3 ounces Old Bay or Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil
- One bulb of garlic, peeled and minced
- 3-4 small cooking onions
- Four lemons, halved
- Five-pound bag of salt potatoes (this is a Syracuse thing…you’re looking for small potatoes about the size of a golf ball)
- Three pounds andouille sausage cut into one-inch pieces
- 5-6 ears of corn, shucked, cleaned and cut into thirds
- 3-5 pounds snow or king crab legs
- 100 littleneck or Maine clams
- 4-5 pounds uncooked shrimp, 21-25/lb., peeled and deveined
- 1-2 pounds sea scallops
- 12-quart pan with strainer insert
- Outdoor burner, like a turkey fryer base
- Sturdy tongs
- Pot holders
- Large clean bucket
Add water and Old Bay to the pan, cover and start the burner. Allow the water to come to a good rolling boil. Add garlic, lemons, onions, sausage, potatoes and corn. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Add the crab and clams, recover and cook 5-7 minutes, or until clams are opened. Add shrimp and scallops, cover and cook 3-4 minutes, or until shrimp turns orange and scallops are translucent.
When the boil is complete, turn off the burner and remove the lid. Using the tongs and pot holders gently and slowly lift the strainer out of the boiler and allow to drain. Set the strainer insert into the bucket for easy transport. Discard the lemons and onions before eating.
There is no doubt that this is best consumed with beer. Avoid heavy ales and go for a lager or pilsener. Actually, I found that Strongbow Dry Cider complemented the flavors nicely.