A classic shrimp boil is a great deal of fun. But let’s be honest, quite a bit of trouble. If you don’t have a huge pot, don’t have a big vessel or table to put it all on, you are kind of out of luck. I consider it a fun “event” – lots of people gathered around to dig into a pile of fresh shrimp, having a great conversation while peeling away. For the full experience, I love my Beer Shrimp Boil with Beer Sauce. And it’s a fun thing to do on a beach vacation. I don’t, however, really think of a full-on shrimp boil for a simple dinner.
Here’s my solution – fit all those classic flavors into one skillet with a delicious buttery sauce and its instant summer in a dish. A make-it-yourself spice blend adds a ton of flavor to the classic shrimp (pre-peeled in this case), sausage and potatoes. It’s still a fun, communal meal. I love to put the skillet on the table and let everyone sop up that delicious butter with some French bread.
Shrimp boil is a classic southern beach experience – again, if you have the requisite tools. If you are headed to a beach house this summer, mix up a jar (or two) of the spice blend before you leave home, then buy some beautiful fresh shrimp and the rest of the easily found ingredients when you arrive. You can easily do this in a Dutch oven or any large skillet. If you don’t have a large enough vessel, you can even cook each part separately, cooking the shrimp in the butter sauce, and pour it all into a big bowl.
I love baguettes for sopping up the fabulous buttery sauce in the pan. For an even more authentic experience, you can boil some fresh, in-season cobs of corn and roll them in the butter as well.
Big Skillet Shrimp Butter Boil
- For the Spice Blend
3 teaspoons dried mustard
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons celery salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mace (or ¼ teaspoon nutmeg)
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- For the Shrimp
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound small, bite sized red potatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound smoked sausage
2 cloves garlic
3 bay leaves
1 pound jumbo, peeled, deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen
1 -2 baguettes
- For the Spice Blend
- Measure all the spices into a jar, screw on the lid and shake well to combine. The spice blend will keep for months in an airtight container.
- For the Shrimp
- Put the softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and add ¼ cup of the spice blend and beat until smooth and combined. Transfer to a container, cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours, or up to two days, to allow the flavors to meld. You can also mash the butter and spices together with a fork if you prefer.
- Pat the shrimp dry and spread out on a large plate in one layer. Sprinkle about 1 Tablespoon of spice blend over the shrimp, then place the plate in the fridge for several hours.
- Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by about an inch. Add a generous amount of salt and 1 Tablespoon of spice blend. Bring to a boil and cook until a knife easily slides through a potato, about 15 minutes. Drain completely. You can do this several hours ahead.
- Cut the smoked sausage into slices about ¼ inch thick. Put one Tablespoon of olive oil in a large, deep skillet and cook the sausage over medium heat until cooked through and slightly curling. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the dripping in the skillet. You can do this several hours ahead as well, just put the sausage in the fridge.
- Take the spice butter out of the fridge at least half an hour before you are ready to prepare the skillet.
- When ready to serve, pour 3 Tablespoons of water into the skillet with the drippings and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cut the spice butter into pieces and whisk it into the skillet a few pieces at a time. Let each piece melt before adding more butter. When all the butter is whisked in, use a vegetable peeler to peel long strips of yellow peel from the lemon and drop them into the skillet. Drop in the bay leaves. Put the garlic through a garlic press into the skillet (or very finely mince and add). Lower the heat to medium and let bubble for a few minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and curled, turning over with tongs occasionally to cook evenly. When the shrimp is almost cooked, stir in the sausage slices and cooked potatoes. Stir to coat in the butter and cook until heated through.
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