January 18, 2011

Aaron's Famous Shrimp Boil

The last couple of times we had the whole family at the beach, I made a good old fashioned shrimp boil. It's basically a giant pot of boiling seasoned water with potatoes, corn, sausage, onions, clams, and shrimp. When done, you just dump it out onto an outside table covered with freezer paper, and everyone gathers round to eat it up with their fingers. It's really the embodiment of my three favorite qualities in a meal: huge quantity, tastes delicious, and little cleanup (you just wrap the remainders up in your table covering and throw it away).

On this last trip, I heard it referred to as "Aaron's Famous Shrimp Boil"
(see Danniey's blog), which is hilarious because I've made it a whopping 2 times, for basically the same crowd each time. Still, I did take copious notes both times about the ingredients and quantities and cooking times. So, even though I've only done it twice, I feel that I have at least 10 normal peoples' shrimp boils' worth of experience.

Given this wealth of accumulated skill, I feel it's only right to share this proficiency with you, dear reader, and so I present for you here my accumulated knowledge on the subject of Shrimp Boil.

Shrimp Boil

Servings: makes enough to serve 12 very hungry adults (this quantity will fill the turkey fryer near to the brim, so don't increase any one ingredient without making a corresponding decrease somewhere else.)


2 bags shrimp boil seasoning (Zatarain's)

1/4 cup to 1/3 cup salt

1-3 heads of garlic

1-2 lemons (quartered)

4 lbs small red potatoes (cut in half. If you don't cut them, they'll roll off the table when you dump out the boil)

3 med. sweet onions (no need to peel; cut most of the way through the onion into quarters, but leave connected at the root end)

3 lbs sausage links (spicy but not too spicy - kielbasa's okay; Farmer John Louisiana Style Smoked Sausage was well liked; Bar S Hot Links were not; anything called red hots are probably too much)

16-20 frozen mini ears of corn

10 lbs clams (rinse the shells)

7-8 lbs shrimp (either shell on or deveined but with shells still on)


Fill turkey fryer with water about 2/3 full (at least 3 holes on the strainer basket still showing above the water line) (Keep a pitcher of hot water on hand in case you underestimated the water and have to add more. It's easier to add more water than to have too much water and have to bail it out at the end). Bring to a boil, then throw in the salt and seasoning bags. Cut the garlic half longitudinally and throw that in. Slow boil for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, squeeze lemon juice into pot, and throw the remains of the lemons in. Put in the onions and potatoes. When you put in the onions and potatoes, check your watch, because every five minutes after you put in the potatoes you'll add another ingredient in this order:

  • sausage
  • corn
  • clams
  • shrimp

Keep everything at a low boil, but crank up the heat right before adding each new ingredient so that it'll return to a boil quickly. After throwing the shrimp in, cook just until shrimp are pink and cooked through (2-5 minutes).

Pull out strainer basket, then dump on paper covered table. Serve with squeeze butter and cocktail sauce. Also, remember to get your drinks before you start eating because your hands will be too messy to go back and get them later.