Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Savannah Low Country Boil

Last Spring I spent a few days in Savannah, Georgia as a first time visitor. Savannah is a lovely and interesting little town, although quite touristy, especially along the popular Riverfront. But it has a lot to offer a hungry food enthusiast from the sticks.

Some of my more memorable Savannah taste experiences were - the still-warm pralines from River Street Sweets, sipping the mango bubble tea on the second story outdoor porch of the Boba Cafe while watching the street activity at the City Market down below, and Cobblestone Café’s incredible breakfast of shrimp and cheese grits with gravy. I still dream about that last one!

Surprisingly, the most disappointing dish I tried was one of the major specialties of the region. When I first read about Low Country Boil (a.k.a. Beaufort or Frogmore Stew) it sounded delicious. I could almost taste it in my mind’s mouth - succulent shrimp simmered with flavorful smoked sausage in a spicy broth with new potatoes, sweet onions, and fresh corn on the cob. I couldn’t wait to try it in its native habitat.

My big mistake was trying Low Country Boil at one of the well-touristed River Street restaurants. The shrimp were overcooked, the potatoes undercooked, the corn was mushy, and the broth was blander than dishwater. But I knew this dish had potential if properly prepared. My mind’s mouth couldn’t be wrong!

When I got home I set forth to create the Low Country Boil of my dreams. I knew I shouldn’t just throw everything together in a pot and boil it. Each ingredient cooks differently, so I determined the proper sequence and timing for adding each ingredient to the pot so each would be cooked perfectly. To make the broth flavorful and spicy I allowed the seasonings to spend time just sitting in the water to fully release their flavors. Simmering the smoked sausage in this flavored water for a little while before adding any other ingredients added a smoky flavor to the broth. Fresh lemon supplied a spark of acid.

Now this was Low Country Boil! The shrimp were juicy and tender. The smoked sausage and seasoned broth exchanged flavors with each other, to the benefit of both of them. The potatoes were cooked just perfectly and had absorbed enough of the seasoned broth to be flavorful with a zip of spiciness. The corn was moist and tender and snapped when bitten.

Do try this at home! It is the perfect casual summertime meal and may easily be doubled or tripled to feed a crowd (but be sure to use a very big pot).

Lydia’s Low Country Boil

Serves 4 - 6

2 quarts water
4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 2-3 inch lengths
½ fresh lemon
1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into quarters
3 – 4 ears of fresh corn, each cut into 3 pieces
4 large red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters
1 1/2 pounds shrimp

In a large pot mix water and Old Bay seasoning. Stir well to dissolve seasonings and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours. If you are in a rush, simmer it gently for 15 minutes.

Bring seasoned water to a simmer and add smoked sausage. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add onions and potato and simmer for 10 minutes.

Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the pot and toss the lemon shell in as well. Add the corn and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, until the corn is just tender.

Add the shrimp and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve in large soup plates with plenty of napkins and thick slices of toasted bread on the side for dunking into the delicious broth.

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Anonymous Rachael said...
Your recipe sounds delicious but next time your in Savannah, go to the Lady and son's and have their low country boil, its the best around!!