Don’t worry. Despite it’s moniker “Frogmore Stew”, this iconic dish is neither made with frogs nor is it a stew. But it IS however completely delicious. It was created in the 60’s by a fisherman in South Carolina when he had to make a meal for over 100 National Guard soldiers on a whim. His recipe then took off-and I’d imagine so did his seafood shop profits. Rumor has it the soldier who made it was from a city in South Carolina named Frogmore. A town so small that it consisted of a post office on one side of a road and a country market on the other. Over time the postal service eliminated the city name of Frogmore (did you even know they could DO that?) and the dish was later renamed a “Low-Country Boil”.
Such a shame though-I think Frogmore Stew is a much cooler name. Except it implies the use of amphibians in the recipe-obviously no frogs have been harmed in the making of this dish.
The same cannot be said for the crustacean family, though...
Traditionally served in the coastal south, it’s a dish whose presentation is as iconically American as it is a sign of the last legs of summer. Served usually outside, it’s steamed and unceremoniously poured onto beachside picnic tables lined with newspapers. Served casually with only the base essentials- a towel, and a fork. I’d imagine it was designed for sun-seekers and those returning back from a swim in the ocean. It has a fun, come-as-you-are kind of vibe to it. And I dig that.
On it’s most basic level, the dish consists of a combination of steamed or boiled: shrimp, corn, potatoes and andouille sausage. The seafood in the dish is based on the region you’re in. What’s fresh and available to you is what you use. In Louisiana they add fresh crab and crawfish. The Carolinas and Georgia go more of a shellfish-route with shrimp and fresh blue crab. Up in the costal north they use lobsters caught right off the coast. And here in the Midwest we tend to use more clams, oysters, grilled shrimp and andouille sausage. The only non-negotiable? Old Bay Seasoning. It’s traditional around all these parts as it pairs perfectly with most seafood- and I’d hate to go without it.
Many cooks claim butter is an optional addition, but in my mind, butter is NEVER optional. What you should pay attention to is the other seasonings- and be cautious about the use of salt here. Old bay is salty, as well as the andouille sausage here. Adding more salt or even unsalted butter can tip the scales.
Seeing as I currently live in a small apartment, where creating small fires with driftwood is highly frowned upon (and would likely end with me losing my deposit), I’ve been working on a few alternative methods of making the dish at home. There’s two versions of this dish, depending on the amount of people you’re serving. Just you at home? Aluminum foil packets, baby. No cleanup at all, just throw away the foil! Having 3-4 people over for a little par-tay? Try the one-pan-plan with my sheet pan version. And with only one baking sheet to clean up afterwards, you’ll thank me once your guests leave and you’re not left with a messy kitchen!
I use a slightly different technique than most cookbooks with both of these methods. I heat the butter and oil in a small saucepan and then put the spices in. Heating up most spices makes them bloom and become more fragrant. It’s also the best way to evenly distribute the oil and butter to prevent burning, since each item takes different times to cook. Potatoes are the most dense with the longest cooking time, so they go in first. Then they’re pushed to the sides of the baking sheet followed by the corn and sausage, then thirdly the shrimp for the shortest cooking time. This allows everything to be done perfectly at the same time. And did I mention all in one pan?!
Less dishes make me a very happy girl. And I bet it’ll make you happy, too.
Low-Country Boil (Sheet Pan Version)
Serves 3-4 people
2-3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp butter, divided
1 tbsp pepper
1 tbsp old bay seasoning
1 tsp toasted garlic powder
1 ½ tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 corn cobs, husked and cut into pieces
6 potatoes, washed and cut into wedges
3 lemons, quartered
1-13 oz. package of andouille sausage, sliced
1 lb. shrimp deveined (I also added some grilled shell-on shrimp in this recipe too)
2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small saucepan melt the butter, canola oil, old bay, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and pepper and whisk to combine. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly
On a half-sheet pan, place the potato wedges and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the melted butter mixture. Cook for 10 minutes.
Push the potato wedges to the outer edges of the baking sheet, and place the corn and sausage into the center of the sheet. Drizzle and toss with 1 tbsp of the melted butter mixture and return to oven for another 10 minutes.
Push the corn and sausage to the outer edges of the baking sheet as before and add the shrimp and lemon quarters to the center of the pan and pour the remaining butter mixture. Bake for another 13-15 minutes or until shrimp turn pink in color.
Garnish with parsley and squeezed juice from the lemon slices. Serve immediately.
Low-Country Boil (Aluminum Foil Packet Version)
Serves 1 individual packet
1 corn cob, husked and cut into pieces
3-4 Shrimp, deveined
5-6 slices of Andouille sausage
1 potato, cubed into equal size pieces
1 lemon, quartered
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp old bay
1 tsp toasted garlic powder
¼ tsp pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut a long piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.
In a small saucepan melt the butter and add the old bay, garlic powder, and pepper and whisk to combine. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, put in the corn, shrimp, sausage and potatoes. Pour the butter mixture in and gently stir to combine
Fold up the sides of the aluminum foil to form a bowl shape. Pour the above mixture into the center of the piece of aluminum foil, place the lemon slices on top.
Sprinkle on the parsley and red pepper flakes. Fold up the ends of the foil over itself to seal the top and sides of the packet (you can use another piece to secure if needed).
Place in the oven on the baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fully cooked. You can gently open the foil packet and stab a potato with a fork to check for doneness.
Remove from oven and carefully open the top of the packet (careful, it will be hot and steamy!)
Squeeze lemon over enjoy!