Grab yourself a bucket of beer and get some shellfish, preferably ones you have trapped yourself.  Then call up a dozen of your friends to come over to enjoy this casual feast from the low country.

A few tips are in order.  Shrimp should not be boiled.  You simply place the shrimp in the boiling water when you are finished cooking and are removing the pot from the stove.  Leave  them in for for 3-4 minutes at most.  Drain off water and serve.  Boiling the shrimp makes them tough and chewy.  We like to use the head-on shrimp for this recipe and remember that the larger the count, the smaller the shrimp.  As the count is the number of shrimp in a pound.  Large shrimp (broilers, stuffers, and fryers) range from 10/12 a pound down to 21/25 per pound.  Medium (cocktail) shrimp vary from 26/30 count to 41/50 and small (party shrimp can go down to 51/60 or 71/80.  To thaw shrimp, simply place under running water and let sit in the water for a few minutes.

We usually get our crawfish flown in from Louisiana.  When we are in Florida we like to use the most common Florida crawfish, which is the Florida Spiney Lobster, but just as good and less expensive are the Florida Bulldozers also know as Spanish Lobster, Shovel-nose, or Locust Lobster.  They are caught by Gulf shrimpers along with shrimp on the sandy bottoms of the Gulf of Mexico.  They also take only 3-5 minutes to cook, after splitting them down the back of the spiney shell with sharp kitchen shears, so you can just throw them in at the end, along with your shrimp and crawfish.

Lobster tails also must be thawed before boiling, in room temperature water for about 5-12 minutes depending on size.  Drop in the water and plan on 5-10 minutes cooking depending on the size.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1/3 c. salt
  • 1 T. black peppercorns
  • 2 packages dry crab boil such Zatarain’s
  • 1 c. liquid crab boil such as Zatarain’s  (optional, this will make it hot)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-3 pounds shrimp or crawdads
  • 1 6 oz. lobster tail per person
  • 1-3 Bulldozer or Spiney Lobsters per person, depending on their size
  • 8-12 new potatoes
  • 2-3 ears of corn, cut into thirds
  • 2 artichokes
  • 1 foot of andouille sausage, cut into 8 equal links
  • 2-3 lemons, halved
  • 2 medium size yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, split in half
  • 1 c. melted butter

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the stock: In a large stock pot with a basket insert on high heat, add the water, salt, and peppercorns. Add the rest of the seasonings, cover and bring up to a boil. When the stock is at a boil, add the potatoes, corn, and artichokes. Cover and bring back to a boil, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the seafood. Cover the pot and bring back up to a boil, about 5 minutes. Taste the stock for seasoning and adjust if needed. Add the larger lobster tails, cover and turn off the flame. Allow the mixture to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, adding the smaller lobster, crawdads and/or shrimp in the last 3 to 5 minutes depending upon size. To assemble, place newspaper on your picnic table, covering it.  Then drain the water out of the pot and dump the drained boil contents directly on the newspaper.

Serve with plenty of drawn butter, cocktail sauce, beer and paper towels.