A Good Olde Fashioned Crab Boil

Mmm....Crab Boil. If you ever get invited to a 'boil', accept immediately. A boil is classic Southern tradition, where large quantities of crawfish, crab, shrimp, sausage, corn and potatoes are boiled in a pot with a spicy blend of herbs. The perfectly seasoned food is then strained and laid out on a newspaper in front of the hungry guests. Trust me, the newspaper is a key component as boils are a messy affair!

As a previous Atlanta, Georgia resident, I suffer from extreme Southern cuisine withdrawal, so you can imagine my excitement when my friend Brandon call me up and invited me over for a crab feast. Now Brandon, bless his heart, was planning on just boiling the crab in regular salted water and eating them with butter, clearly I had to intervene. Luckily I still had a box of Zatarain's crab boil seasoning from my last visit to Atlanta! Yes, you could make your own crab boil seasoning and there are lots of good recipes out there, but Zatarain's has been around since 1889 and has practically perfected it.

So I packed my trusted oversized pot (40 quarts - basically twice the size of your standard pasta pot) and Zatarain's and made my way over to Brandon's place. Boils are great because they are so easy to do, there are basically only 4 steps:

1. Filled the pot 3/4 with water, add 2 tbsp of salt, boil seasoning package (Zatarains') and bring to a rolling boil. Note - if you like things a bit spicier, add 1 tbsp of cayenne pepper or chili powder to the mix.

2. While its boiling - wash and prep the corn/potatoes. I usually leave the potatoes whole if you get the small round ones, just make sure you give them a good scrub. As for the corn, cut each ear of corn into half or thirds.

3. Once the water is boiling, add your washed seafood (crab, crawfish, shrimp), corn/potatoes. Note - crab, corn and potatoes take about 5 minutes to cook, but shrimp takes less time (about 1 minute) so you should add this near the end.

4. Once it is done, turn the stove off and let the seafood stand in the pot for about 5-10 minutes, so the flavours can really seep into the food. Then, drain and serve. For those of you who don't enjoy picking out crab meat, you can add 1-2 tbsp of vinegar to your boil and it will make the meat pull away from the shell, making it easier to pick out.

Here's a picture of our massive crab boil.....I confess we had a very high proportion of crab to everything else, but isn't that the best part anyways?
Suffice to say 6lbs of Alaskan King Crab legs, 4 ears of corn, a case of beer = the best summer backyard meal. Several days later, I find my self still dreaming about the sweet but slightly spicy succulent crab meat. I might just need to have another boil before this summer is over, I'm sure my roommate Michael won't mind at all.