You can put just about anything in a boil. It is one of the easiest and most fun dishes you can serve for a big party but the key is to use the best quality (fresh or frozen) shrimp you can find and not to overcook it. Serve with crusty bread and cold beer and you’ve got a party! Some people add mushrooms, oysters, fish, crab, and peppers but I prefer this classic recipe.
That one time, when I auditioned for Food Network Star, I had to make a dish to take to the call back the next day. I was in a hotel so I did not have a kitchen. It is a long story but after trying everything I could think of, I went to a fire station and they let me use their kitchen. I made them this same dish (without the beer since they were on duty) and they loved it- they had never had it before.
LOWER ALABAMA SHRIMP BOIL
Skill level: Easy
Prep Time: 15 Cook Time: 25 minutes
6 lemons, halved, squeezed
1 cup Old Bay seasoning
1 ½ cups New Orleans style crab boil seasoning like Zatarain’s (use liquid or powder)
2 bottles of your favorite beer
4 large white onions, cut in quarters
3 pounds red potatoes, skin on. Cut in half if they are large
10 ears fresh corn cut into 3-4”pieces
3 pounds smoked sausage (I always use Conecuh sausage but use your favorite)
5 pounds whole fresh shrimp 21-26 count/ in the shell
¼ cup kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup hot sauce-optional
Rinse fresh shrimp well with cold water. Set aside. Fill a large stockpot ½ full with water-about 3-4 gallons. Fit the pot with a strainer if you have one. Bring to a boil. Add the first 6 ingredients. And bring back to a full rolling boil. Add potatoes and onion. Put the lid on and cook 10 minutes; bringing the pot back to a full boil and the potatoes are not quite fork tender. Add corn and sausage. Cover and cook 5 minutes until the corn is almost done. Make sure the pot is again at a boil and add the shrimp. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring the pot frequently to keep the shrimp moving around until they turn pink and curl. Lift the strainer from the liquid or strain the contents from the liquid. Add the butter. Check the seasoning and add the salt and hot sauce to taste.
Don't keep cooking once the shrimp are done--- they will get tough. Once they are done, remove them immediately, drain well and serve.
*You can double or triple this recipe but if I do, I cook in stages, adding each to a large, sanitary cooler. Keep the lid shut to keep the steam in. The corn will keep cooking so cook it just slightly underdone. Next cook the potatoes and onion and put in the cooler. Again, keep the cooler shut to keep the steam in. Since they will continue to steam, also cook the potatoes slightly underdone. Lastly, cook the shrimp and add it to the cooler. Put the butter in at the end and stir everything together carefully so you don't break up the potatoes. If it is a bit dry, add another stick of butter and toss.
Some people dump their boil out onto a table covered with newspaper or brown craft paper. I prefer to leave it in the cooler and use a large scoop to serve into paper bowls or plates. That way, it stays hot longer.