Please help me welcome the newest contributing writer, Charlie Brown.
Like "Barbeque," "seafood boil" is both a noun and a verb, a regional dish cooked in tall stock pots over stove burners or propane flames. From Maryland down to Louisiana.
I grew up on the outskirts of the City of Pittsburgh in the small town of McKees Rocks. A lot of people would probably wonder what a northern fella would know about southern cooking. Well, my family roots extend to the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama, Florida, and into the Caribbean Islands (Jamaica).
There was always some sort of southern cooking going on in my grandmother's, my mum's, or my father's home. I spent a lot of time growing up in Grandma's kitchen watching her cooking everything. From fried chicken to frog legs there wasn't much that Grandma cooked that didn't turn out delicious. A lot of that food was so good, so delicious, because everything was prepared with Love. To me it is the most important ingredient in the world.
I loved watching my Gram cook; I loved watching my parents cook. I have to be truthful and say my Gram was the one who inspired me to learn how to cook. It was my father who taught me to try different cuisines. My father's parents (my grandparents) whom I never met because they passed away before I was born originated from the Island of Jamaica and transplanted to New Smyrna Beach, FL so there were a lot of Caribbean/West Indian dishes in our home. From jerk chicken to jambalaya.
From those two very important people in my life I wanted to learn how to cook, I wanted to learn how to make food that my ancestors help establish in Southern United States, and I wanted to make people smile like my Gram did when people ate her food.
The question that everyone would want answered is:
why you started cooking boils? and how to get the process started?
Well, the why is as youngster we traveled a lot and as an adult I kind of continue that tradition. I've from the east coast to the west, from north to south, and few cities in between. In those travels you sample a lot of different cuisines. The one meal that always stuck with me was the seafood boil.
I believe in my heart the reason it always stuck with me, was it brought people together. From family to "framily" the boil is an amazing food party.
I am a family/framily(friend family) oriented person, so a boil is right up my alley for get togethers. I try to have at least 2 to 3 a year. I invite my children, my mum, aunts, uncles, cousins, and framily to get together to celebrate things that happen in life.
My all-time favorite boil and probably most special one was for my daughter Sadie's (aka Mama) graduation and acceptance to LSU right smack dab in the middle of crawfish boil country. I had to send her off to Louisiana the right way. Cause I know she was getting ready to have some of the best Creole, Cajun cooking she has ever had.
Don't get me wrong "mine isn't too shabby 😉"!
So instead of talking about it, let's be about it, get down to these ingredients, and process that I go through to put on a boil.
Cooking Class with C
With a boil one of the most essential items is the stock pot. Stock pots come in a variety of sizes. I own four ranging from 12qt to 80qt. I'll be writing as if I was preparing a 60qt boil.
Fresh vs. Frozen
99% of your ingredients can be found here in Pennsylvania. I sometimes get my ingredients here, crawfish included. Sometimes I have crawfish shipped in alive to a friend's house in Ohio due to Pennsylvania not allowing live crawfish to be shipped here. The company I use is called Louisiana Crawfish Co. They are very reasonable on prices. For example, 5lbs of crawfish will cost you about $78 with $0 shipping if you choose priority 4 days or add $10 dollars for priority with Saturday delivery. Again, you don't necessarily have to go that route. Robert Wholey's, Walmart, Giant Eagle, etc. sell pre frozen fully cooked full body mudbugs or just the tail meat of the mudbugs.
If you decide to do live crawdad make sure to purge them. This entails emptying the sack of crawdad into a cooler and using a garden hose to run cold water over the crawdad until that water runs clear. This is very important while purging. Locating any dead crawdads is a must. They will float but some will stay to the bottom. If you have a thick waterproof glove just run your hand through the crawdad to make floaters rise to the top. REMOVE ALL DEAD CRAWFISH!
Andouille Sausage is also an essential part of the process. Though you can use smoked sausage, kielbasa, and some people even use hot dogs(🤮).
Shrimp raw or cooked can be used. I normally go with large shrimp but medium shrimp will suffice. Stay away from your salad shrimps!
Corn selection is also very important. I normally try to find bi-color corn(white/yellow) on the cob because I feel it is sweeter but yellow corn hits right also.
Potatoes selection can vary but need to make sure you have selected a waxy potato. Your typical mashing potatoes are to high in starch and won't hold up well to a boil.
Onions I normally choose white onions because they are sweeter in my opinion and don't overpower other ingredients.
Whole Lemons not much you say about lemons. You also can use lemon juice.
Garlic just makes everything better. You can tell I grew up in an Italian town lol!
My boil spice of choice is Louisiana Fish Fry Crawfish, Shrimp, and Crab boil. There are a variety of other companies (Zattaran's, Old Bay) that can be used.
You also add a variety of other seafoods ex. Scallops, Crab(Blue, King Crab leg clusters), Mussels, Lobster, etc., if you're feeling a little more Boujee lol!
3lbs of Crawfish Live or Pre Frozen cooked
5lbs of Shrimp raw deveined or cooked
3lbs of Andouille Sausage cut into medallions ¼ to ½" thick
18 ears of Corn on the Cob snapped in ½
3 Large White Onions quartered
1 cup of Minced Garlic
6 Lemons cut into ¼ to ½" medallions
1 packet of Louisiana Fish Fry Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab boil pack
1.In a large enough pot put enough water to cover the seafood. Normally I go about ¼ of the way from the top of the stock pot . Add Louisiana Fish Fry Crawfish Seasoning. Bring the pot to a rolling boil. Set timer at 40 to 45 minutes
2. Add corn, potatoes, onions, garlic to boiling water let boil for approximately 30 to 35 minutes
with 5 minutes left to cook:
3. Add crawfish
with 3 minutes left to cook:
4. add shrimp
and your shrimp with 3 minutes left. If you are using any other seafood
Add In Cooking Times (with # of minutes left to cook from the original 40 to 45 minutes)
Crabs = 15 minutes
Lobster = can vary from 5 to 20 minutes depending on size
Scallops = 3 minutes
5. Turn off burner and allow all ingredients in the pot to soak. If you are looking for a less spicier meal don't let it soak for 10 or more minutes. The longer it soaks the spicier it gets.
Drain your pot and line your table with newspaper, parchment paper, aluminum foil, table cloth, and toss your boil.
As they say in Louisiana Creole "manje manje"!