Secrets to a Fool Proof Shrimp Boil
Shrimp Boils for locals on the Gulf Coast are tradition plus a weekend meal staple! Not only is it delicious but it’s so easy when you know what to do! Today, we are going to answer the 5 W’s and H of throwing a fool proof shrimp boil party!
On the Alabama Gulf Coast, you can have fresh shrimp almost year-round though most locals stick to summer months. There are a few months ever year that shrimping is out of season to allow for spawning (laying of eggs). Intercoastal shrimping in bays and other local waterways is typically in season all year outside of May and September. This schedule varies year to year so make sure you check if you are planning to bring in your own fresh shrimp! Gulf Shrimp season opens in Alabama every year on June 1stand typically remains open through January.
So where is the best place to host a shrimp boil? We find it easier to host it outdoors. This allows guests to not only enjoy that summer weather but also makes for easier cleanup. The shrimp boil eating process is a messy one! Grab a picnic table or folding table, throw down some newspaper, rolls of paper towels, paper plates and (for some) plastic forks. That is basically all you need to do for setup of your outdoor get together!
Also, we have a few recommendations for the best places to buy fresh shrimp while you are visiting! Some of our favorites are down County Road 10 – Just keep driving and you’ll dead in at Aquilla or Billy’s. You also can snag your bounty at Captain Fraziers, at the corner of Highway 59 and County Road 10. If you want to stay on the island, don’t forget about Rouse’s in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores along with Blalock’s in Gulf Shores.
To start, you’ll want to be sure you have a large stock pot. You could start with as small as a 16 quart pot but if you are hosting a fair number of guests, you may want to go up in size. If you are able, you may want to spring for a propane cooking stand. Many of these come with a large pot and boil basket included. This allows for all cooking and eating to take place outside, giving you the opportunity to be out of the kitchen and enjoying your guests! If you would rather, boiling can happen on the stove with a smaller pot. Whichever you prefer. If you don’t get a boil/steam basket with your stock pot, you’ll want to purchase a food skimmer. This helps to get all ingredients out of your pot when cooking is complete.
Now that you have all your cooking utensils, you’ll want to make a list of ingredients needed. There are 4 required ingredients and the rest are optional.
- Seafood Boil Seasoning – You can pick up Old Bay or Zatarains at most grocery stores; We’ve included our favorite DIY recipe below!
- Shrimp – go ahead and save yourself an hour and buy them deheaded; 1/2 pound per person.
- New Potatoes – 2 small potatoes per person
- Corn – buy in husk and remove at home; snap or cut into 1/3 pieces. 1-2 per person
Optional – (recommendations based on 16 quart pot for boil)
- Sausage – 2 pounds sausage; We recommend Conecuh!
- Garlic – 5 heads smashed but not diced/minced
- Onions – 2 large quartered
- Beer – 1 can for boil (and keep the rest for you)
- Ground Cayenne Pepper – only for the brave; 1 cup if you’re strong enough
- Lemons – for flavor
- Fill stock pot 2/3 full of water and put on high heat
- Flush shrimp with tap water until water runs clear
- Dump in spice (beer, onions, garlic and lemons, if you desire plus cayenne if you dare)
- Once boiling, add potatoes and cook 10 minutes
- Add corn (and sausage) and cook 10 min
- Add shrimp and cook until a couple float to the top (or are bright pink) then remove from heat.
- Here’s where locals differ: you can strain and serve now or let sit in water for a remaining 20 minutes. Some swear it makes peeling the shrimp easier.
Either way, once you are ready, dump everything on your newspaper covered table + rolls and rolls of paper towels + paper plates + forks, pick out what garlic you can see to assist your guests then dig in!