The Shrimp Boil: That’s Entertainment, New Orleans-style

 Brad Jones / Alamy

When entertaining a crowd this summer, ditch the same-old meat-on-heat fest and do what they do in New Orleans: Host a seafood boil. A traditional Louisiana way of celebrating holidays, special events, or simply life itself, the boil is a tasty mix of shellfish, sausage, and vegetables, served communally. Perhaps most memorably, there’s no silverware required: Guests dig in with their hands. “It’s an easy way to feed a bunch of people something that everyone can agree is delicious,” says Daniel Causgrove, chef de cuisine at New Orleans’ Seaworthy.

While the dish takes some advance planning, it’s not at all complicated to pull off. All you need is a large pot, some fresh ingredients, and Seaworthy’s recipe below. Causgrove suggests having all ingredients prepared and ready to go before even putting the water in the pot. This way, all you have to do is set a timer and add ingredients as called for. Also, don’t rush that 15 minutes of off-heat, lid-covered soaking at the very end — this is when the flavors really come together.

Seaworthy Shrimp Boil

Serves 8–12

Ingredients

  • 2 lb Crab boil seasoning (we recommend Zatairain’s Pro Boil)
  • 6 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 heads garlic, halved width-wise
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • 2 oranges, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 turkey necks (optional)
  • 2 lb red potatoes
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1/2 lb smoked sausage
  • 2 lb white mushrooms
  • 10 lb large head-on shrimp

Fill a large (30 quart) pot halfway with water and add seasoning, cayenne, salt, onions, garlic, lemons, oranges, bay leaves, and turkey necks. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium high and simmer for 45 minutes. (If using turkey necks, that’s when they’ll start to tenderize.) Add potatoes and cook for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Add corn and cook for five minutes. Add sausage and mushrooms and cook for five minutes. Add shrimp, increase heat to high cook for four minutes. Cover with tight-fitting lid. Turn off heat and allow to soak for 15 minutes.

To serve, strain and scatter ingredients across a large platter or a newspaper-lined table.