As summer winds down, we find ourselves not only trying to squeeze in a few more go-arounds of our favorite things from Summer 2015, but also trying to top ourselves in their execution. Outdoor meals: definitely top of that list.
It’s true that anything tastes better when eaten outside this time of year—even things that have no particular summer proclivity like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a yogurt—but some meals are made to be eaten in the open air. S’mores, popsicles, extremely messy tacos, hot dogs, stinky cheeses, and the reason we’ve brought you all here today: shrimp boils.
While we like shrimp itself just fine, shrimp boils are another story. Something about a great, big potful of shrimp and potatoes and corn, tossed out on a table and piled high for everyone to share in the backyard is pretty much as satisfying as a summer meal gets. It’s communal, it’s interactive (peeling, passing, scooping), and it’s delicious. Plus, you get to do a lot of totally acceptable—encouraged, even—eating with your hands. Great: sign us up!
Though we’ve yet to dig into a shrimp boil that we didn’t enjoy, making our own version got us to thinking: corn, potatoes, and shrimp, the three staples of a shrimp boil, are also three ingredients that do extremely well with all kinds of flavors. It’s actually pretty hard to think of flavors they don’t take on deliciously. So, rather than going the traditional Old Bay route, we decided to add a few of our favorite things: garlic, olive oil, and lemon. Our version of the culinary Holy Trinity.
There are a ton of things that make this time of year one of our favorites—even in spite our bummed-ness when we notice signs of summer waning. The weather is basically perfect. The late afternoon light is so gorgeous it’s unreal. Beach trips, which we’re still clinging to, involve much smaller crowds. And stone fruits, corn, and tomatoes are all over the place at their most fantastic. We’ve had some of the best corn and tomatoes we’ve had all summer over the last few weeks, and as it happens, one of our favorite ways to eat both of these is together. Corn and tomato pasta, corn and tomato salad, and now: corn and tomato shrimp boil.
Since we don’t have seemingly endless months of shrimp boils immediately ahead of us the way we did in June, we’ve piled this one with lemon and herbs and, yes, corn and tomatoes. We’ve also added spice and heat, and it all goes so wonderfully with the shrimp and potatoes that you might find yourselves ditching the Old Bay for good. This recipe just tastes like summer to us: bright, spicy, juicy, and fresh. If there’s a better way to say goodbye to the season than getting a big group of your favorite people together and cooking up this boil, we haven’t come across it yet.
Oh, except we suppose finishing it all off with an overstuffed, extra melty s’more. Yeah, that’ll do it.
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Garlicky Lemon Shrimp Boil with Corn and Tomatoes
Makes enough for 6 people
Notes: Using shell-on shrimp will give you a more flavorful boil, but you can absolutely use peeled and deveined shrimp if you’d rather. The absolutely most flavorful boil will come from using head-on, shell-on shrimp, but that’s just not our jam. But if it sounds good to you, give it a go!
Keep your shrimp in the fridge until you’re ready to cook them since shellfish is super perishable.
Makes 1/2 cup
– 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
– 6 large cloves of garlic
– Optional: Red chili flakes to taste
* Smash and mince garlic cloves or grate with a microplane.
* Heat olive oil over medium low heat until hot but not bubbling.
* Turn off the heat and immediately add garlic (and red pepper flakes, if using). Stir. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
– 2 1/2 pounds fresh shell-on shrimp
– 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed once with the side of your knife
– 2 white or spanish onions, peeled and halved
– 3 pounds medium-sized new potatoes, halved
– 6 ears of corn, halved
– 3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
– 6 sausages (we used hot Italian)
– 3 lemons, halved
– 5 quarts water
– 2 fresh chili peppers, halved lengthwise
– 3 tbs cayenne pepper
– 3 tbs paprika
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 tbs black peppercorns
– 10 sprigs fresh thyme
– 2 tbs kosher or sea salt
– salt + red pepper flakes to taste for roasting the tomatoes
-Garlic oil (see recipe above)
* Fill a big pot with 5 quarts of water. Add 2 tbs of salt, and set on the stove to boil. Remember, you’re going to be adding a lot of things to this pot, so choose one that can fit all 5 quarts of water with a bunch of extra room.
* Roast the cherry tomatoes: Season the halved tomatoes with salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Drizzle with olive oil and toss together. Flip tomatoes so they’re cut side up. Roast in a 350 °F oven for 30 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
* Once your water has come to a boil, while the tomatoes are roasting, par-boil the sausages: Turn the water down to a simmer. This will prevent the sausages from splitting open in the water, as will pricking them a few times with a fork. Add them to the simmering water and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
* Add the chili peppers, cayenne pepper, paprika, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme sprigs, onion halves, and smashed garlic cloves to the pot. Squeeze in the juice of the lemons, then toss the lemons themselves in. Stir. Bring the water back up to a boil.
* Add the potatoes to the water and adjust the heat so it’s simmering steadily. Cook for 15 minutes.
* Add the corn to the potatoes and cook for another 10-15 until they’re nearly done. You don’t want them to turn mushy! Check them on the earlier side of this window by poking the potatoes with a knife and taking off a kernel from one of the corn cobs for a taste test. The potatoes should still be a little too firm and the corn should still be a bit starchy.
* Add shrimp and cook for one minute. Turn off the heat and immediately cover. After 12 minutes, check to see if the shrimp have turned totally opaque and are done cooking. If you’re not sure, take one out and cut it in half where it’s thickest. It should be opaque white all the way through. Do this quickly, keeping the shrimp covered so you can continue to steam them if they’re not done. If needed, let shrimp sit for another 2 minutes, then check again. Don’t let them overcook or they’ll be rubbery!
* While the shrimp are cooking, brown the sausages: Heat a pan over medium high heat. Make sure your sausages are dry to prevent spattering. (Pat with a paper towel, if necessary.) Add enough oil to the pan to coat, and when hot, add the sausages. Cook until nicely browned. Remove to a cutting board and slice into thick slices or chunks when cool enough to touch.
* When the shrimp have cooked through, pour everything in the shrimp boil pot into a colander in your sink. Fish out the bay leaves and time springs.
* Put everything else back into the pot. Add the roasted tomatoes (juices and all) and sausage. Mix together.
* Toss the shrimp boil out onto a large dish or a thick layer of butcher paper/newspaper with a sheet of wax or parchment paper over top. (Our shrimp boil is a little too juicy we found just to put right on newspaper!) Sprinkle with fresh herbs of your choosing (we like a mix of basil and parsley).
* Put a little garlic oil into the bottom of everyone’s bowls. Scoop the shrimp boil into the bowls right on top and toss with the garlic oil. Put the rest of the oil out on the table so that everyone can help themselves to more.
* Dig. In. Serve with crusty bread, if you like! We also like a nice cucumber salad (just cucumbers and vinegar and salt) on the side.
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