Recently, a CTbites reader, Mike Von Wahlde, commented on our Beach Picnic Shoutout, posting this hilarious and informative rant/recipe extolling the pros and cons of the Classic New England Crab Boil. It was too good not to repost, and with the summer winding down, why not celebrate our last days of outdoor cooking with this quintessential culinary experience?
Nothing says “I live in the North East” like mollusks and crustaceans swimming in a boiling pot in the yard or on the beach. The classic New England boil is the best thing going for large group gatherings if your picnic area allows for propane. You say "Of course, they're great, but..."
But what? Why you gotta be so afraid of everything? Let's look at the pros and cons.
1. Cheap (potatoes, corn, carrots, onions, lemons, Dejulio's sausage (or Stew's)...a pittance. Stew Leonard's often has steamer sized lobsters for 3.99 a lb. Yes, you read that right, but you probably already know that.)
2. It's a one-dish meal. One pot, one strainer. With a watch and a ladle or large spoon, that's it. Timing is everything.
3. The propane torch burner is the true yin and yang of cooking tools. It puts most pro stoves to shame and instills fear in small children, as it sounds like a jet. For guys (and some girls) that's like the taste of canned beer in the summer (awesome) and it is a new "kitchen" utensil, which is nice for the ladies (or gentlemen) who like their kitchen toys. They're pretty affordable at Home Depot... or Lowes... or amazon
4. Clean up. All outside. All garden hose. All the time. Bio soap, please. Save our fishes. We want our kids to eat them later.
5. It’s actually a pretty healthy meal, but don’t tell anyone. You can always serve ribs on the side, or slow smoked and as an appetizer.
6. Everyone gets to pick and participate in their lobster.
1. Hauling water.
2. Explaining to your friends that it's really that simple.
3. Doing it every week, all summer long, especially when friends from the Midwest want "New England food."
4. You are still cooking. And you have to be outside, which has no air conditioning, which are issues for some people… specifically some people who should stop reading and go get over themselves.
5. You might forget a lighter to start the grill. Or lose some knuckle hair starting the thing.
6. You'll get phone calls from attractive friends of friends.
7. You might drop your cell phone in the pot, or spill boiling water on your flip-flopped feet.
"SO HOW DO I DO IT?" You ask.
1..Open an IPA. I’d suggest Cisco Brewers Indie Pale Ale (http://www.lostinthebeeraisle.com/2010/06/cisco-indie-pale-ale.html)
2. Boil water, sea salt helps. Don't use sea water.
3. Start with the taters and lemons, give em a ten minute head start with some of Penzy's boil spices ($3) then add a couple tablespoons of Old Bay (or hot peppers). (20 minutes to dinner)
2. Then go to the sausage and the corn and carrots with (12 minutes to finish).
3. Add small "bugs" with 10 minutes left
4. Clams? Sure. or fish steaks? (3 minutes)
5. If you have some shrimp (2 minutes to go) , add them last.
6. Pull the strainer basket and set it down out of the reach of all the kids. Long tongs help with serving, a lot. Ouch. Burned fingers.
7. Serve with butter (melt it in the hot pot after you drain the water somewhere ecologically friendly and convenient).
8. Don't forget to add a squeeze of Sriracha into the butter. (Yes, you are welcome.)
9. Paper plates and Ikea metal utensils (seriously, they cost as much as plastic and you can wash them).
10. Paper towels instead of napkins, Fancy Nancy.
Eat well, take chances.