Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How To Host a Shrimp and Sausage Boil

One thing I love about our lake cabin is the way it brings people together. It's fun having a place for friends and family to gather and as the host, it takes a bit of planning to make sure our guests enjoy their visit. The best cabin memories often surround food -- cook-outs; s'mores around the bonfire; bellies up to the picnic table passing around tasty homemade dishes -- so I typically write a detailed meal plan each week to ensure we have everything we'll need for weekend festivities.

Meal planning for the cabin can be challenging. For one, there's more pressure to deliver a satisfying meal (and little room to say over the table, "huh, not sure where this recipe took a wrong turn..."). Food needs to be hot and cooked to perfection; the presentation, appetizing; and ideally, the clean-up easy, so I'm not stuck in the kitchen when I'd rather be socializing.

That's why Andi and I love hosting shrimp and sausage boils at the lake cabin. It's easy to prepare (especially for me, because Andi does the cooking!), usually a crowd pleaser because it's something out of the ordinary, and always delivers a "wow" factor with our guests.

Here's how we host a shrimp and sausage boil:

What You'll Need:
Raw shrimp, rinsed
Andouille or other spicy sausage, cut into 3-inch sections
Red potatoes
Ears of Corn, shucked, cleaned and cut into thirds
Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning (Boil Bags)
Large Stock Pot
Brown craft paper

*Generally, figure 1/2 lb. of shrimp and 1/4 lb. sausage per person; so, to serve 20-25 people at our recent Fourth of July shin-dig, we purchased 10 lbs. of shrimp, 5 lbs. sausage, 3 5-pound bags of red potatoes and 24 ears of corn.

Prepare ingredients by rinsing the shrimp and red potatoes, shucking corn and cutting husks into thirds, and slicing sausage into 3-inch pieces. Fill a large stock-pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. We (I say "we" like I'm the one doing all the cooking - ha!) ... Andi uses a big 44-quart stock pot to accommodate a large amount of food, but a regular 6-quart stock pot would work fine for a smaller group of 4-6 people.

Start by cooking the red potatoes in boiling water with half of the one-pound bag of Slap Ya Mama seasoning. Add the corn on the cob to the pot, followed by the sausage. In the last five minutes of cooking time, add the shrimp to the stock pot.

Meanwhile, roll sheets of brown craft paper onto a tabletop. We usually use two or three layers of paper to keep the shrimp boil mess to a minimum.

When the food is prepared, dump the hot, steamy shrimp and sausage mixture directly onto the tabletop. Throw a stick of butter onto the table and a hunk of bread or tasty corn bread muffins and you've got yourself a delicious shrimp and sausage boil, served family-style.

The best part -- when the meal is finished, roll up the craft paper and discard. Easy clean-up.


Notes from the cook (aka: my husband, Andi):

  • Timing is everything so be sure to monitor the food as it boils. The potatoes cook for the longest amount of time (30 minutes total). About 20 minutes into cooking time, add the ears of corn and sausage to the stock pot and boil for 10-12 minutes while potatoes finish boiling. In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, throw in the shrimp (boil for 5 minutes if defrosted / 7 minutes if frozen).  
  • Either use frozen shrimp or defrost within two hours of eating time.
  • Andi recommends a large strainer because, in his words, "it's cheap and it works well for scooping." 'Nuff said.
  • Add dry seasoning as an accompaniment to the tabletop so guests can fine-tune spice levels to their liking.
  • And finally, use a premium shrimp for the best quality boils. We've ordered a fabulous medium-sized wild Mexican raw shrimp (36-40 per lb.) without shells, veins or tails from Morey's seafood market with great success. (They ship direct, too!)

We're planning another seafood boil over Labor Day weekend when my Nebraska family visits the lake cabin. I'm excited; there's something so fun and communal about gathering around a table, rolling up your sleeves and digging in to share a meal together.


  1. This is really cool! I'm seriously considering this for Allie's birthday some year - perfect time for it, food she loves and it would be easy for the family!