Friday, August 7, 2009

Par-ty DOWN!

Jake's has reopened...the sweet corn is in, it's Friday night - and here in DC, it's an August afternoon with (gasp) only 38% humidity!

It's time for a celebration, something for spicy Piskies who aren't afraid to dig in and get their hands a little messy. Meet me at the picnic tables...who is bringing the salad and bread? I'll bring a couple pies - the peaches are in (perhaps make one of them banana cream for Leonardo? Hmmm...)

Shrimp Boil à la Maryland

4 quarts water
1 12-ounces beer
1/2 cup Maryland-style seafood seasoning* (see notes)
2 tablespoons salt
8 medium red potatoes, quartered (adjust to size of potatoes)
2 large onions, peeled
6 or more garlic cloves (see directions)
2 pounds kielbasa or andoille (or a mix), cut into 2-inch slices
8 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut in half
4 pounds unpeeled shrimp, about 21 to 25 count** (see notes)
4 or more zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices if your garden is overrun with them
Cocktail sauce
Melted butter
Extra seafood seasoning

Peel the onions and cut into about six wedges (or cut into wedges and then peel them, be daring). Crush unpeeled garlic cloves with the heavy part of a knife, remove the peel but do not slice.

Bring the water, beer, seafood seasoning and salt to a boil in a large pot (about 12 quart capacity) over high heat. If you have a big pasta pot with a steamer insert, life will be easier. Add the potatoes and onions; cook about 8 minutes; remember to adjust the timing based on the size of your potato pieces. Add the sausage and cook about 5 minutes. If your corn is a little old - or you like it on the soft side, toss in now for about 5 minutes. Toss in the zucchini whenever you want. Actually, adjust the cooking time for everything based on your preferences, period - just count back from the item that will take the longest cooking time.

Remove the pot from heat, toss in the shrimp, cover pot, and steam until they turn just pink. Five minutes, perhaps, but remember overcooking will make them tough.

Drain the cooking liquid - or carefully remove the steamer insert of goodies - please be careful, this is very hot steam and liquid, and clumsy at times. (You might want to remove the shrimp first, so they don't overcook). Pour the goodies in a couple large serving bowls for semi-polite company. But it's more fun to just pile it on a table covered with brown paper, and a picnic table is best. Pass around the melted butter, cocktail sauce and extra seafood seasoning for those that like to doctor things up a bit (or raise their cholesterol, clear their sinuses, etc.

The only sides you need are some good, crusty or sourdough bread and a nice crisp salad. Purists don't want those extras, but it's nice to have a couple things that don't taste like the seasoning. Oh, and have plenty of paper towels and handwipes available, peeling the shrimp is messy.

*Old Bay seasoning is very good and available in most grocery stores, look for the familiar red and yellow tin. I'm partial to J.O's #1 and Wye River Original Red (you can order them from Maryland Delivered. People use Zatarain's as you head further south, it's very good and many just prefer the blend - and then this yummy stuff starts being called a low-country boil, or Frogmore Stew, or any number of regional names.

**You can really use any shellfish that suits your fancy. Mimi, we will happily add some crayfish if you'll bring it by. And don't worry too much about the size of the shrimp, and if you can actually them someplace from local waters...well, then I don't have to say any more why you should use them! If you want to serve blue crabs with this, steam them separately the traditional way with rock salt and seasoning.