Folks in coastal South Carolina, the area known as the “Lowcountry,” have been eating Frogmore stew for as long as Robert Barber can remember. “It’s a great dish that’s easy to cook for a lot of people,” says Barber, the proprietor of James Beard-award-winning Bowens Island Restaurant, a Charleston seafood joint that’s been in his family since his grandfather opened it more than 60 years ago.
The dish, which got its name from Frogmore, a little village on nearby St. Helena Island, couldn’t be simpler: It’s just red potatoes, fresh corn on the cob, unpeeled shrimp, and sausage (Barber prefers Hillshire Farm’s smoked kielbasa), all thrown together in a big pot. “It’s hard to mess it up,” Barber says before emphasizing one main point: Don’t overcook the shrimp. “They’ll get mushy.”
The only thing left to do is to get a big table and some paper towels. “You get your hands a little dirty, but it’s worth it,” Barber says. “It’s the kind of communal event we don’t get enough of.”
• 6 to 8 cups cold water
• 3 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
• Dash of hot sauce
• 1-1/2 lbs new red potatoes
• 2 lbs Hillshire Farm Polska Kielbasa, cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths
• 6 ears of corn, shucked and broken in half
• 2 lbs shell-on fresh shrimp (36- to 40-count)
Place the cold water, Old Bay, and hot sauce in a large pot. (The amount of water depends on the size of the pot; you should have enough space inside to let the ingredients breathe and move, and enough water to just barely cover them.) Bring the water to a boil over high heat; then add the potatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until they are soft when pierced with a fork. Reduce heat to medium-high, then add the kielbasa and corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Once the pot is at a boil, add the shrimp and then remove from the heat. Stir gently to mix, and keep watching until the shrimp start to turn pink. Drain in a large colander and return to the pot. Serve to six people immediately. Barber uses a rustic copper or wooden bowl to serve at the restaurant, though if you’re going Lowcountry style, dish everything out on top of tables covered with newspaper.