This recipe is emblematic of my Southern background. Seafood boils are traditionally a way to bring family and friends together. This recipe creates a party for the table and has something for everyone to enjoy.
Technique tip: Everything should be cooked in the same pot; stagger the ingredients so they all take the same amount of time to cook. Use a spider strainer, which you can get at an Asian grocery store, to maintain the boil.
Swap option: Lobster, crab, or clams can work as additions or substitutes in this recipe.
Special equipment: Large stockpot, cheesecloth, butcher's twine, sachet, immersion blender or conventional blender, fine-mesh strainer and food processor.
- 2 fennel, tops and bulbs separated, tops chopped
- 12 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 6 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 8 quarts water
- 3 heads garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
- 3 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped
- 6 tablespoons crab boil seasoning, preferably Zatarain's
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon habanero hot sauce, preferably Cry Baby Craig's Hot Sauce
- 5 lemons, halved and juiced
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 6 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 Fresno chiles, stemmed and halved lengthwise
- 2 jalapeños, stemmed and halved lengthwise
- 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, greens thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, halved lengthwise
- 1 Fresno chile, stemmed
- 1 jalapeño, stemmed
- 12 cloves garlic, 6 minced and 6 whole
- 2 tablespoons + plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound clarified butter or ghee
- 1/4 cup Cajun seasoning
- 8 quarts seafood boil broth (recipe above)
- 3 pounds new potatoes, quartered
- 1 pound whole crawfish, purged
- 1 pound mussels, purged and debearded
- 1 pound whole 10/12 shrimp, rinsed
- 5 ears corn, shucked and halved
- 1 pound andouille sausage, store-brought or homemade
- 1½ cups seafood boil butter (recipe above)
For the seafood boil broth:1.
Make a sachet by wrapping the fennel tops, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, bay leaves and dried oregano into a cheesecloth square and tying it with butcher's twine.2.
Combine the sachet with the water, garlic, fennel bulbs, onions, crab boil seasoning, hot sauce, lemons and lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, celery, Fresno chiles and jalapeño in a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer for 2 hours. Discard the sachet.3.
Using an immersion blender (or working in batches with a conventional blender), puree the remainder as much as possible, then pass through a fine-mesh strainer.
For the seafood boil butter:1.
Prepare a wood fire in a grill (preferably) or preheat the broiler. Spread the scallion whites, shallot, Fresno and jalapeño chiles, and whole garlic on a grill grate over a wood flame or arrange on a baking sheet put under the broiler. Roast, turning occasionally, until everything has a nice rich char but is not burned. Allow it to cool briefly.2.
Place the roasted items into a blender or food processor with the minced garlic, salt and pepper and process until as smooth as possible.3.
Warm the clarified butter in a small saucepan over low heat until just melted. Transfer the butter to a mixing bowl and add the roasted vegetable mixture, scallion greens and Cajun seasoning. Stir until fully incorporated.
In a large stockpot, bring the seafood boil broth to a rolling boil over high heat.2.
Add the potatoes to the boiling broth and cook for 7 minutes, until the potatoes are just barely tender. Add the crawfish and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Add the mussels and shrimp and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Add the corn and sausage, and cook for 5 minutes.3.
At this point, the crawfish should be bright red, the mussels open, the shrimp pink and fully cooked, the corn plump and bright yellow and the potatoes tender.4.
Remove the seafood and potatoes with a spider strainer, toss everything with the seafood boil butter to season and serve immediately.