The countdown has began for the last few days of summer. While we dread the cold weather that awaits us, there are still a few warm days ahead and a few meals thats we can savor in the mean time. One of my favorite ways to wish summer a fair well and have a great Labor Day weekend, is with a seafood boil. A large pot heavily seasoned, full of the best that summer has to offer, including seafood, is a great way to close out the season. A seafood boil is also a great way to roll up your sleeves and have a good time with friends and family over a perfect meal. The Harlem Chowder for 2 at Red Rooster Harlem is a great way to also enjoy a end of summer seafood boil, without cooking. But how do you create a successful seafood boil? Here are a few tips for the perfect end of summer feast!
Although food is at its best when it is fresh and in season, and seafood has great flavor of its own, the cooking liquid for a seafood boil is essential. The cooking liquid has to be overly seasoned and heavily flavorful, due to the fact that it needs to cook a lot of seafood and vegetables that will essentially water down the initial flavor. You want the flavoring liquid to permeate and season all of your ingredients. A classic crab boil seasoning, or Old Bay seasoning, is always a great flavoring when making a seafood boil. Other flavor add-ins can include beer, wine, spices such as bay leaves, chili flakes and peppercorns, and also flavored salts.
A end of summer seafood boil is a great way to use up all of your farmers market produce. Fresh corn, potatoes, a head of garlic and smoked sausage are the stars in a classic crab boil. What's great about a seafood boil is that there are no set ingredients or options, and variations should always be encouraged. Whether clams and white shrimp are on sale, you have some extra baby red potatoes laying around, or you just purchased a fresh mound of corn at your local farmers market, a seafood boil doesn't have to be costly, and everyone can get something that they enjoy eating.
Cook it up! Pour it Out!:
When preparing a seafood boil, a little chef expertise comes into play. Timing is everything and knowing when to add certain ingredients in your pot will help create the perfect balance of cooked seafood and cooked vegetables. Once your cooking liquid is flavored and seasoned, you want to add the things that will take the longest to cook first. As your layering your ingredients, the potatoes should be one of the first things to begin cooking. After that, corn and sausage, followed by shellfish, lobsters and/or crabs, and finally shrimp. Adding your shrimp at the very end will assure that your shrimp cook through in the hot liquid, but will not overcook them and become mushy by being trapped on the bottom of your pot. Adding shellfish second and third will assure that the shells from the mussels and clams open fully and any lobster or crabs that will be added will be cooked as well. Typically, a seafood boil is served on a table, family style with no bowls or utensils--eating with your hands is all the fun. Place old newspaper on your table before pouring the seafood out onto the table. The newspaper will become another protective layer and will help catch all of the juices and shells.
And if it's Still Too Much Work?
Head to Red Rooster on Tuesday, September 3rd for a fantastic extended summer Crab Boil featuring Harlem Legend Crab Man Mike.