Thursday, May 23, 2013

Low Country Boil for a Crowd {Recipe}

I recently visited my family farm in rural Alabama, where we gather up as many friends and family as possible for our annual Crawfish Party!

any guesses on how many people in this photo are my relatives?

The crawfish are actually cooked in Louisiana and brought to the farm the day of the party, but the low country boil is made fresh!

yummmm, crawfish!

My uncle bought the largest commercially available pot (40 gallons) for the yearly event - if you need a bigger one, it's a custom order.  It's even bigger than the one I saw recently on Duck Dynasty (those guys have nothing on us!).  It's so big that I can fit inside, with the lid on!


For the normal kitchen chef, however, a large pot will do.  You only need a pot like ours if you plan to feed 75 people from a single batch.  If you're cooking for Louisianians, it may be more like 35 :)  The cool part is that with only one batch, everyone gets to eat at the same time.


Ingredients:
  • Red Potatoes (10 lbs.)
  • Corn (50 ears) 
  • Onions (1 dozen)
  • Seasoning (2lbs. Zatarain's crab boil powder + 1 lb. Swamp Fire powder OR 1 quart of Zatarain's liquid crab boil)
  • Lemons (optional)
  • Kilbasa Sausage (12 lbs.)
  • Shrimp (20 lbs.)

Method:

Fill your pot 2/3 of the way with water and bring to a rolling boil.  Our pot takes an entire hour and at least one tank of propane to come to a boil.  Also, the propane tanks freeze over, so they need their own bucket of water to sit in.  If it freezes up, the tank stops vaporizing and the fire goes out.

While you're waiting for the water to boil, prep the veggies.  The potatoes can go in whole or halved.  The onions should be quartered.  Remove the husk and silks from the corn, and snap in half.  Cut lemons in half.  Slice the sausage into bite-size rounds.  The shrimp go in whole, but it's a good idea to wash them first.

Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the seasoning and start timing (or, if you like your potatoes and corn less spicy, add the spice later in the cooking process).

0 minutes: Add potatoes
10 minutes: Add corn
20 minutes: Add onions
25 minutes: Add sausage
30 minutes: Add shrimp
34 minutes: Turn off heat
37 minutes: Serve!

I know four minutes doesn't sound like much for shrimp, but overcooked shrimp get a gross texture and are also hard to peel.

Strain the water from the good stuff (we have an insert for our pot, but you could dump a small batch through a colander).  Using such a huge pot with so many pounds of food, we had to develop a special method for this step.  We have a 2x4 board with large hooks on it to get the pot out of the water - two people lift the pot.  A third person dumps the pot into aluminum trays - one for each table!




Serve immediately!

I like to dip my low country boil in a mixture of equal parts mayonnaise and cocktail sauce; others prefer cocktail sauce alone, or nothing at all!  It's up to you.  For the most part, nobody eats the onions or lemons - they're mainly there to flavor everything else.

When we have leftovers, we separate everything into baggies after dinner.  The potatoes make excellent home fries and are a delicious breakfast when paired with leftover sausage.  The shrimp can become shrimp cocktail the next night, or a Cajun pasta.  The corn freezes well and becomes a delicious corn chowder.

Lemon drop martinis or ice cold beer provide a welcome respite from the spice.  (And are best enjoyed in redneck wine glasses made from mason jars!)


I hope you enjoy our family recipe!



17 comments:

  1. Next time I am coming to diner! ;-)
    Yum!
    Esther
    ipatchandquilt dot wordpress dot com
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com

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  2. Thank you for the tutorial I think we will do this for our son's rehearsal dinner on Tybee Island this June.

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    Replies
    1. That's great! We did a low country boil before my wedding as well! Best of luck!

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    2. This looks so yummy. :) We were planning on doing this for our wedding too! Do you have any tips as to finding the best kind of equipment (pot and burner) to buy?

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    3. Sorry, I don't know where we got it from. I think some of the sporting goods stores carry equipment like this.

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  3. I appreciate all your helpful tips. We (Yankees that we are!) are making this for the first time ever for a family party with about 40 adults attending. Your advice will make it easier. A friend is loaning us a 40 gallon pot. Didn't know about the propane freezing.

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  4. Thanks for this very useful post!

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  5. Can you measure the pot and give me the dimensions?

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  6. I don't have access to the giant pot, but the family consensus is that it holds 40 gallons.

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  7. Not to be dumb but is this recipe to feed 75- with no other food being served but the boil? I'm having a party with 30 adults and 20 kids. Other food will be served as well:sausage pepper and onion sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches along with pasta salad and potato salad. How should I cut this recipe down?

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  8. I could use some help. We are hosting a party for 30 adults and 20 kids. We want to serve a low country boil but because the kids are picky eaters and some of our adult guests don't eat seafood, we are also serving sausage pepper and onion sandwiches, pulled pork, pasta salad and potato salad. Can you help me decide how to cut this recipe down?

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    Replies
    1. I would cut it in half. You could probably get away with cutting it more, but it's really tasty, so you may find the kids and adults will try it and love it. With the other sandwiches and sides available I think half a recipe would be good for your party. Good luck and enjoy it!!

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  9. I'm in the restaurant business and I love folks like you that take the time to give quantity, clear instructions and excellent photos. Thank you for taking the time to do this and then sharing. We'll be using your recipe the Saturday after Thanksgiving to feed a crowd while watching the Florida State v. Florida game on the big screen! Go Noles!

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  10. Hi Bonnie,
    What is the heating element used for that 40 gallon pot?
    Would you send me details.
    thank you

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    Replies
    1. It's a propane burner, kind of looks like a jet engine, lol.

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    2. And where does one buy a large 40-gallon pot to feed an army?

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    3. Great question! Online restaurant suppliers should have one. I believe they are also available for rent!

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