Several years ago, my husband bought a turkey fryer. Remember those? They were all the rage! In case you weren’t in on that craze, a turkey fryer is a big pot on a stand that is hooked up to a propane burner. You fill it up with oil and plunk in a whole turkey. Yes, a deep-fat fried bird. Now, I’m not gonna lie…that greasy, crispy turkey skin did taste scrumptious. But, my body (and heart) didn’t really appreciate that much fat on a regular basis. So, the fryer was relegated to the shelf in the garage.
It seemed like a waste to have this big pot taking up so much valuable real estate on the shelf. I kept thinking there had to be other healthier uses for the fryer. I channeled some fond childhood memories and came up with the idea of using it for a southern-style seafood boil.
When I was a girl, my grandparents had some dear friends named Freddy and Gladys. Freddy and Gladys were an eclectic southern couple who were small in stature, but large in personality! They would drive up from Mississippi, hauling coolers full of fresh seafood for their land-locked Midwestern friends. Their mission was simple–to teach us the proper way to prepare a southern boil (pronounced “bowl”). I always anticipated their arrival and the fun we’d have in the kitchen. They’d say things like, “Ain’t Kelly just growing like a weed?” and “She could charm a buzzard off a gut wagon.” I never really understood half of what they said, but I loved their spunk, their southern accent (y’all) and, of course, their cookin’.
Over time, we’ve adapted their southern boil to our northern taste buds and developed our own recipe for a fun summer seafood feast. This meal requires very little preparation and delivers lots of flavor. It is perfect for a weekend meal at the cabin or home and, best of all, its the kind of meal that’s meant to be shared with others. I wanted to share it with you in time for Labor Day Weekend. So, dust off your old turkey fryer, practice your southern drawl and give it a try!
Southern-Style Seafood Boil
1. Set up your fryer outside—or a big pot on the stove inside. Fill approximately 1/3 full of water. You’ll actually doing more steaming than boiling, so it doesn’t need to be full to the top. Bring to a boil.
2. Add a lemon (quartered) and a box of Zatarain’s Crab Boil seasonings. The spices and herbs come in a mesh bag, which we cut open because I like all of the little flavorful bits to cover the food.
3. Next–the ingredients. You can add any or all of the listed ingredients and in any quantity you choose. The trick is in the timing. Begin with the potatoes and start watching the clock, because you need to do a little backward math to get each item in at the appropriate time. Cover the pot and boil.
- Baby red potatoes (NuVal 93) boil for 20 minutes
- Snow Crab Legs (NuVal 57) boil for 5 minutes
- Clams (NuVal 82) boil for 5 minutes
- Mussels (NuVal 51) boil for 5 minutes
- Jenni-O Turkey Sausage (NuVal 9) boil for 5 minutes
- Fresh Corn on the Cob (NuVal 91) boil for 5 minutes
- Shrimp (NuVal 75) boil for 2 minutes
My husband and dad doing the cooking.
4. Once you’ve boiled the ingredients the proper amount of time, then turn off the heat. Leave the cover on and allow the food to remain in the seasoned water for another 5-10 minutes to soak up the flavor.
5. Scoop out the food with a strainer or slotted spoon and place all together in a big bowl. Or, better yet, on a picnic table covered with newspaper. This is finger food at its best. Just remember the paper towels!
As Freddy and Gladys would say, “Y’all eat up and enjoy now, y’hear?”