Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shellfish Bastard

A trip to Your Dekalb Farmers' Market for some pepper go awry (as usual). If the image above doesn't look like a downright hootenanny, then- in the immortal words of Ivan Drago- I must break you. Ah, Dolph, we hardly knew ye. With all due respect to I Come in Peace, Red Scorpion, and Masters of the Universe, Lundgren really showed his range in Rocky IV. Cut from the cloth of the true thespian, he was.

[painfully obvious lack of transition]

Van Burin (fellow food-lover and not-fellow Cleveland-sports apologist) and I were playing God. How did we arrive at this divine authority to decide which crawfish were coming home with us, while others were spared? As our tongs- as if the hayforks of damnation themselves- guided the fate of our unsuspecting quarry, I pondered, "will the Rapture be this way? Will mankind be reduced to a proverbial sorting table of clammering crustaceans, only to be pluck'd at will by the Angel of Dea-"

"Dude," exclaimed Van Burin, "they've got fresh blue crabs."

Indeed, this wasn't going to be your daddy's Low Country Boil...

Woodstock Critter Boil

1 bottle white wine (something you'd drink by itself)
1 C Emeril's Original Essence (or make your own here)
1 C Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 C Old Bay Seasoning
1 C Sea Salt
1/4 C Liquid Crab Boil
4 Lemons, quartered
4 Yellow or White Onions, quartered
5 lbs. White Creamer and/or Red New Potatoes (the smaller, the better)
2 lbs. Andouille Sausage (cut into 1" pieces) - ATL-iens, find Patak sausages!
2 lbs. Polska Kielbasa Sausage (cut into 1" pieces), Patak if possible
6-8 Ears fresh Corn, shucked and broken in half
3 lbs. live Crawfish, purged thoroughly*
5 lbs. (about a dozen) large live Blue Crabs (male)
3 lbs. 16/20 Wild American Shrimp, head-off, shell-on
Old Bay, for seasoning
Butter (go for the real stuff)
Hot Sauce (I'm partial to Texas Pete)

Step 1: Get a big pot. Mine is 25 gallons, but a standard turkey-fryer size (7-10 gallons) would work, depending on the size of the crowd. Oh, and you can bathe in mine. We didn't. That's gross. Anyway, we filled it up to about 2/5-1/2 full. Get that water a'boilin' (putting the lid on the pot helps speed up the process).

Step 2: As the water gets hot, add the Emeril's, Tony Chachere's, Old Bay, and Sea Salt and stir until dissolved. Also add the lemons, onions, and dill. I ended up moving all the solid stuff to the outside of the basket, so it wouldn't mix with the seafood. Basically, we just making a hellbroth of flavor here. Since the food is extracted from the broth, I really don't think you can over-season. Let everything meld for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Add your potatoes to the pot. I know lots of folks like to add potatoes to a cold pot and cook them as the water heats. As these are pretty small potatoes, I think they'd get too overcooked by the time everything's done.

Step 4: After the potatoes have been in for about 10 minutes, add the corn and sausage. Let cook for 5 minutes.

Step 5: Add your thoroughly-purged mudbugs (aka crawfish) to the pot. Make sure they're submerged so they can soak up the goodness.

Step 6: After another 5 minutes, add the blue crabs to the boil.

Step 7: 3 minutes after the crabs go in, kill the heat, dump in the shrimp, and put the lid on the pot. Let everything steam for 3 more minutes (5 if the shrimp were still frozen).

Step 8: Extract the goodness (use an oven mitt, dummy). Transfer to a table covered with newspaper or foil pans. Immediately cover with melted butter and dust with Old Bay Seasoning. Grow fat off your accomplishment.

I tried several wines (too many that day) to find a good pairing with the meal. If you brush your teeth after dinner, I'll tell you all about them in another post!
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