There’s something about a seafood boil that brings people together. The irresistible sight of a steamy pile of jumbo tender shrimp, perfectly cooked potatoes, and corn steamed in fragrant cajun spices with a splash of hot sauce is hard to pass up. When I was asked to feature a recipe from Mark Bittman’s new cookbook Dinner for Everyone – 100 Iconic Dishes Made 3 Ways Easy, Vegan, or Perfect for Company I knew at once that his New Orleans Shrimp Boil was the recipe I wanted to try.
Mark Bittman is an American food journalist, author, and former columnist for The New York Times, and one of America’s best-known and most widely respected food writers. Mark has written over 30 books on every facet of cooking from How to Cook Everything, The Minimalist Cooks Dinner, Eat Vegan Before 6:00am, Kitchen Matrix, Food Matters, and A Bone to Pick. Dinner for Everyone is a collection of recipes he makes instinctively with a mix of memory and improvisation in the kitchen, that has been carefully measured documented and refined to help you recreate his original flavors as close as possible.
After reading his cookbook and trying this recipe, I was impressed with how clean and clear the flavors were with lots of garlic, a hit of fiery cayenne, and the vinegary pop of tabasco. I prefer mine, however, a little more ‘dirty’ so I garnished with a sprinkling of Old Bay just before serving. Overall I thought it was a crowd-pleaser and was easy enough to pull together for a weeknight meal. To save time and make sure I had all of my ingredients on hand, I ordered them from Peapod, and they arrived the next morning. I chose a delivery time that was convenient for me, and automatic tracking updates let me know the arrival time within minutes. For those among you who are curious to give Peapod a try, I’ve included a link to save $20 off your order of $75 or more and 60 days of free delivery, simply by using the code CANVAS20.
New Orleans Shrimp Boil
Slightly adapted by using (1 1/2 T Old Bay Seasoning)
Makes 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes
One 12-ounce bottle of beer, or 1 1/2 cups water (I prefer Temperance Birdsong Beer)
1 1/2 pounds waxy potatoes, cut into 2-inch chunks
1 large onion, cut into chunks
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 pounds whole large shrimps (frozen are fine), peeled if you like
4 ears corn, husked and broken in half
Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
Put the beer (or 1 1/2 cups water) in a large pot with 8 cups water. Add the potatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cayenne, Old Bay seasoning, and a couple big pinches of salt and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily and cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are tender around the outsides but not quite done at the centers, 10-15 minutes.
Add the shrimp and corn and return the liquid to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat, cover, and let the pot sit until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the potatoes are fork-tender, just a minute or two. Drain through a strainer set over a large bowl, reserving at least the cooking liquid for serving (preferably in a pitcher or gravy boat).
Taste the shrimp and vegetables, and sprinkle with more salt if you like. Serve right away, passing the hot sauce, lemon wedges, and cooking liquid at the table.