FEAST FOR 5
I have always wanted to travel to the southern United States, Louisiana in particular. I don’t have any connection there whatsoever but the people and the culture have a certain appeal. Creole food seems to really remind me of close communities and spicy personalities. . .and has a connection with France, a country I have a secial place in my heart for. I like the idea of the wild side that the South seems to embody with their bayous, gators and living off the land. One day I will discover if this is true but for now it is my idealized vision.
However, that has not stopped me from trying to make some traditional dishes in the past like gumbo, cornbread, and jambalaya. To many this will sound strange but up until a year ago, I didn’t know about Old Bay spice. I was in Maryland having their famous Maryland crab cakes when a tin of the spice appeared on the table. I tried it and loved it. When I did a bit more research I learned that it is quite common in Southern cuisine and so I brought a couple tins home.
One particular recipe that captured my attention was crab boils which are usually meant to feed crowds. It is seafood and other vegetables boiled, strained and dumped onto large tables lined with newspaper so that cleanup is easy. What an interesting concept. I had to try this on my own.
Of course I had to make some adjustments because I prefer more levels of technique in my food besides simply boiling but the down side is it takes longer than dumping all the ingredients into a big pot but I promise you, the outcome is worth it.
I started by picking out the top ingredients for my boil. Crayfish is more typical but not readily available where I am. Prawns are so I used them as one of my main proteins. In a hot pan with a bit of butter, I sautéed them until they were no longer translucent.
The other main protein would traditionally be andouille sausage but once again, the West coast does not seem have it in abundance so I got some delicious spicy Italian sausage instead to add a bit of heat to the dish. After cutting the sausage into small, bite-sized pieces, I tossed them in a bit of red wine (but this is optional). In a hot pan, I fried the sausage until they became crisped and cooked through.
For the vegetables, I chose corn on the cob and lovely red or yellow-fleshed potatoes. I cut the 5 corns in half and boiled them in water with some Old Bay mixed in for about 10 minutes before straining.
The potatoes I cut into bite-sized pieces, rinsed, dried and tossed in 2 Tbsps of olive oil. On a baking dish I spread them out and sprinkled with a bit of salt and Old Bay. I baked them in the oven for 20 minutes at 450º, then tossed them and let them bake for 20 more minutes.
At the end of it all, the parts get mixed into a large bowl and placed on the table with a large serving spoon.
Cut lemon wedges and add to the bowl. Each person can add lemon to their serving and it tastes so much better. I wanted something nice to go with it so I made a saffron aioli to dip the prawns and potatoes in. Finally, the meal was complete with a glass of cider. This was one of my most successful meals.
4 spicy Italian sausage
5 corn on the cob (cleaned and cut in 1/2)
1.5 lbs prawns (shelled and deveined)
4 Tbsps olive oil
3 Tbsps Old Bay Spice
5 white potatoes (bite-sized cubes)
salt to taste
1. Rinse and dry potatoes.
2. Season with 2 Tbsps Old Bay Spice and 2 Tbsps olive oil.
3. Bake at 450º for 20 minutes in a lightly greased pan.
4. Toss potatoes and bake 20 more minutes.
5. While potatoes are baking, cut sausage into pieces and fry until browned.
6. In a separate pan, fry prawns in remaining olive oil and season with remaining Old Bay Spice.
7. Prepare corn by boiling in hot , salted water until cooked.
8. Mix sausage, prawn, potatoes and corn in large serving bowls.
9. Serve with lemon wedges and aioli.
Protein 54.2 g