A Newcomers Guide to a Southern Classic – The “Low Country Boil”

This past Saturday I had the honor of being invited (through my girlfriend, Kristen) to an official “Low Country Boil”.  I had no idea what to expect when preparing for this event, and I wanted to help you be prepared for your first “Low Country Boil” experience.  I am a Northerner (born and raised in Arlington, Virginia/Washington D.C.), and this wasn’t something I had ever heard of.  Kristen, having lived in South Carolina for less than a year didn’t know much about it either, including what to wear. I figured this is The South right?  We’ll wear whatever we want.

We Show Up And…

This was not what I expected for a “Low Country Boil”.  Her friends hosting the event are both Pharmacists and obviously bring in a decent amount of money because their house has a completely sodded yard, wall mounted flat screen TV, you name it.  People were dressed like they were in an Ambercrombie catalog and were setting up “cornhole” as we arrived.  There was a Blue Moon pony keg, and beer of all sorts from guest donations. (A Random Observation: It seems as though Coors Light’s new marketing campaign is working well for them.  The “Cold Activated Can” because it was definitely the most abundant beer there.  Or maybe it was on sale?)

Low Country Boil Ingredients

  • 4 pounds small red potatoes
  • 5 quarts water
  • 1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 pounds kielbasa or hot smoked link sausage, cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 6 ears of corn, halved
  • 4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined optional
  • Cocktail sauce

(Recipe From: CoastalLiving.com.  If you like Paula Dean, you can use her recipe instead.)

Cook it up

Paula Dean says the total cooking time is 43 Minutes.  Has she ever lied?  I don’t know, but I know a lot of you Food Network people swear by her. Coastal Living breaks it down a little more:
“Add potatoes to large pot, then add 5 quarts water and seasonings. Cover pot and heat to a rolling boil; cook 5 minutes. Add sausage and corn, and return to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Add shrimp to stockpot; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain. Serve with cocktail sauce. Serves 12.”

Dump It All On The Table

WHAT?!?  You’re just going to dump that delicous food on the table?  Yes. That is “what you do”. You are supposed to eat with your bare hands too.  And oh man, was it ever good.  This is one of the best meals I have eaten in a while.  I even had seconds.

Final Thoughts

A “Low Country Boil” is a great event.  I had a blast.  Good food, beer, and new friends.  Strangely enough though, this did not live up to my initial expectations.  Yes, it did exceed them in some ways, but it lacked that southern “character” I thought it would have.  That character I expected is best captured by Larry the Cable Guy or Jeff Foxworthy, but I suppose we were amongst the southern elite, and this was an exception.  Do you think it was?

Since moving down to South Carolina, I have seen a big gap in the socio-economic ladder, and I see big differences between Rich and Poor.  I suppose there is just a big of a gap in Washington, D.C., but there seems to be no help here… or is that just my uninformed view?  Let me know what you think about the “Low Country Boil”, how your experience was different, and watch out for an upcoming post on my take on the gap between the Rich and the Poor of South Carolina.

Update: In case you didn’t hear, South Carolina Governor, Mark Sandford, Father of 4, just got back from Buenos Aires, Argentina where he’s been having an affair with his Argentinian lover..