Shrimp Boil

According to Howard Mitcham in Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz: A New Orleans Seafood Cookbook (Addison-Wesley, 1978), whose recipe we've adapted, "the best of all ways to eat shrimp is to boil them, peel them yourself, plop them down your gullet, and wash them down with plenty of good cold beer". The key to creating an authentic and delicious shrimp boil is to concoct a spicy brew in which to cook the shrimp. Put 1 cup salt, 1⁄4 cup worcestershire sauce, 1 to 2 tsp. cayenne, 6 coarsely chopped ribs celery (with any leaves), two 3-oz. packages Zatarain's crab or shrimp boil seasoning, 2 chopped large yellow onions, 1 head garlic halved crosswise, 1 sliced lemon, and 2 gallons water into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently for 30 minutes. Add 5 lbs. raw head-on, shell-on large shrimp, such as Gulf of Mexico white, stir well, and cook until firm, 5-7 minutes. Drain contents of pot through a large colander, discarding the liquid, then transfer shrimp and any of the remaining aromatics to a large platter. Peel and eat the shrimp, along with Cocktail Sauce, if you like. Serves 6-8.

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