Julie Kelly's Blog
My family and I just returned from a two-week vacation on the East Coast. We rented a home near the beach and hosted a rotating guest list of family, friends and teenagers (thank God you can start drinking early on vacation. Like really early).
One evening, we were expecting a larger group - about 15 people – and since no one wanted to slave over the grill cooking steaks or ribs, I decided to prepare one of my family’s seasonal favorites: Low Country Boil.
All along the Eastern seaboard, summertime feasts are usually cooked in large stockpots rather than on a gas grill. From Maine down the coastline to the Carolinas, local shellfish and vegetables are simmered in spices then tossed onto a communal table to be enjoyed with crusty bread and cold beer.
The Maine Lobster Bake sounds particularly festive but time-intensive; a huge pit is dug in the sand and lined with rocks. A fire burns for a few hours to reach the ideal size and temperature, then layers of fresh fish, lobsters, shellfish, potatoes, corn, sausage and eggs are stacked in between rockweed and covered with a tarp. About an hour or two later, the tarp is unfurled in a burst of savory steam to reveal a magnificent banquet of local fare. (While this might be tempting for you intrepid summer chefs, I’m not sure the clay or silt underneath your suburban lawn will support such an endeavor.)
The further south along the coast, the simpler the variation. When I was a kid, each summer my family would prepare Low Country Boil, a recipe indigenous to the Carolinas. Shrimp, kielbasa, potatoes and corn would be cooked and poured onto our patio table, which was covered in newspapers. I passed down this tradition to my own family and Low Country Boil became a favorite summertime supper to serve, especially while vacationing in Michigan. Occasionally we would add a twist like eggs or clam and mussels. Sitting around a table full of food spread out on a newspaper tablecloth, sans plates or serving dishes, captures the spirit and ease of summer unlike any other meal. So don’t bother firing up the grill this weekend (it’ll probably rain anyways); try this easy and fun recipe with a big group of family or friends.