My brother, William, turned 21 in June. Since he was unable to celebrate with his friends at school, we decided to have a fun dinner for him at home. He loves seafood so I decided that a shrimp boil would be perfect. If you're not familiar with a seafood boil, it's basically a one-pot meal. My friends and I have one at the beach every summer, and my parents grew up having them with their families. We did shrimp and sausage for William's birthday dinner, but you could switch it up and do crawdads, lobsters, or crabs. It's easily scalable so you can serve a huge crowd, or just your immediate family. We also boiled potatoes and corn. You boil a big pot of water and add everything in stages. Start to finish, it only takes about a half hour. If you're doing a larger batch of food, you'll definitely need at least a 12 Qt. stockpot, or you could divide the water and ingredients between two pots. It's also helpful if you have a colander insert for your pot. Keep reading to get the full recipe.
12-ounce bottle beer (such as Dos Equis Ambar)
3-ounce crawfish, shrimp, & crab boil in bag (such as Zatarain's)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 bay leaves
2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
2 garlic bulbs, cut in half crosswise
1-pound small red potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
4 ears white corn, husks removed and cut in thirds
1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch diagonal slices
2 pounds large shrimp, easy to peel and deveined
Old Bay seasoning
Slices of sourdough bread, toasted
In a large (12 quart) stockpot, bring 5 quarts water, beer, bag seasoning, salt, bay leaves, onion, and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat and add potatoes, simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Add corn and sausage, simmer 8 minutes. Add the shrimp, turn off heat, cover, and let rest for 10-15. Drain the liquid, and spread shrimp boil out on a newspaper-covered table. Serve hot with clarified butter, cocktail sauce, lemon wedges, Old Bay seasoning, and toasted sourdough bread.
While the shrimp were resting, I toasted sourdough bread at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. I had already set the table, so all I needed to do was pour the wine and wait for the shrimp to finish cooking. I made Ina Garten's cocktail sauce the day before. This recipe is only 6 ingredients, most of which you'll probably already have on hand. We do peel and eat shrimp a lot for dinner and always make this sauce.
Get the Recipe: The Barefoot Contessa's Cocktail Sauce
For the salad, we kept it simple with mixed greens, tomato, avocado, and mozzarella. For the dressing I made Ina Garten's simple green salad vinaigrette.
Get the Recipe: The Barefoot Contessa's Green Salad Vinaigrette
William made drawn butter, which was excellent. I smothered my entire plate in butter (sorry arteries). He used 1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter (3 sticks). Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Once the butter is melted, throw in 6-8 smashed garlic cloves. Increase the heat to medium until the butter begins to foam. Skim off any foam that forms, removing as little liquid as possible. This process will take about 5 minutes. Turn the burner back to low and let the butter simmer away. Don't stir. The milk solids will settle to the bottom of the mixture, and the liquid will appear clear. It should take about 20 minutes for the milk solids to settle (it may take longer than that, but the longer the butter simmers, the more clarified your final product will be). Next, carefully (it's hot!) strain the mixture through a cheese cloth or coffee filter (William used a coffee filter) to remove the milk solids and garlic cloves. Serve immediately.
Above: the birthday boy enjoying his dinner
For dessert, we picked up a cookies and cream cake from our favorite bakery, Piece of Cake. It's William's favorite, and it's delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of coffee.
Get the Look:
I kept the table setting simple, covering our screened porch table with newspaper. I used our everyday flatware and white china. I originally set the table with some blue and white napkins, but ultimately switched to a roll of paper towels (remember where I said I covered my food in butter? Delicious, but messy.) For the cake, we stuck to a red white a blue theme, with silver balloons, blue and white striped placemats, and red accents.
Thanks for reading!