Low Country Boil

I love a good southern party, specifically a Low Country Boil on a nearby front porch. My uber talented friend, nearby neighbor and colleague, Monica Martino drew this lovely illustration and hosted this shindig last month- along with her husband, Chris. It was a no brainer to add this to the calendar. Yes, please!

Monica and Chris make a great team. They used to throw large get togethers when they lived in Los Angeles and have the perfect party formula dialed in. Having just moved here from LA, (Chris is originally from Atlanta) the couple decided to invite the neighborhood so they could get to know everyone. That's the southern spirit...

Now any good Low Country Boil includes crawfish. The trick is you gotta keep 'em alive until right before you boil them. It's a process for sure. As Monica shared, "I'd eaten my share of crays while working on a tv show about shrimpers in Louisiana, but this was my first time buying and cooking them. We bought our crawfish in the morning from the Crawfish Shack and kept them cool until it was time to cook." 

Monica, "While the water was boiling, we 'purged' the crawfish in the cooler with running cool water and rock salt. This makes them release all their impurities. We rinsed them until the water ran clean, then they were ready to cook." 

They bought a 40 quart pot with a steamer basket and a big wooden paddle to mix. Besides the crawfish, the boil included spicy andouille sausage, sweet corn, red potatoes and shrimp- plus a lot of seasoning, lemons, garlic and a bay leaf or two. 

And seasoning is paramount in any Low Country Boil. Zatarain's concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil has been a New Orleans staple since 1889. It adds a lot of spice. As Monica wisely shared, "Don't be afraid to go a little spicy- that's why there is cold beer available." 

It was fun watching these two work their magic so seamlessly. Monica, "Everything must be fresh and the order you add to the pot is important. Start with the seasonings, onions, garlic, lemons, pepper and sausage. Then add corn and potatoes. Then comes the shellfish. Other than that, you really can't screw it up!" 

Chris and Monica essentially followed this recipe, just adding a few tweaks like using shrimp and eliminating mushrooms. Picture perfect...

So if you're going to do this right, get a big long table and cover it in paper, adding hot sauce, fresh bread, paper towels, cold beer and small garbage pails for the shellfish remnants. Then, let the fun begin...

This has to be the very best part. I'm getting hungry just looking at this whole scene again as everything was so ridiculously tasty. Monica, "It's such a dramatic way to serve up the food and it's so fun to eat straight off the table. It's also a great way to get to know people because there's nothing like sharing a meal with strangers to turn them into friends." 

Chris and Monica hope this becomes a tradition every year. Um, yeah...it better be. 

You may remember Monica from our Christmas post where she made Mercy Gumbo with fresh Louisiana Gulf Shrimp- another dish to remember for a lifetime. Good Lord, I miss that gumbo...

 

Photos and Content: Sweet Peach