17 October 2009

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

It's Football Saturday. Alabama is tromping South Carolina and what a better day than this to feature the The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. While neither of them ever went to South Carolina, they do live there when not living in New York City. this is a big wonderful book filled with great old and new recipes. They have taken a lot of (fill in the excrement word here) for adding sugar to their cornbread and I, too, was appalled at this transgression, but I have learned to love them, again and chalk it up to all that Yankee, elite Northeastern scoolin' they were subjected to.

Still it is a fine book and I am looking forward to their new book. (fill in a big hint, hint, here)

Here is a South Carolina tradition and a great game day stew. It won't save the Gamecocks from an ass-whoopin' but at the very least they will have a fine dinner.

Frogmore Stew

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, peanut oil, or canola oil
1 1/2 pounds smoked pork sausage, Cajun andouille, or kielbasa, cut on the bias into 1 1/4-inch-thick pieces
2 serrano, Thai, or other dried red chiles, trimmed, slit down their sides, seeded, and flattened
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
2 cups chopped yellow onion (about 2 large onions)
2 quarts (8 cups) Sunday Shrimp Broth
1 teaspoon Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 bay leaves
6 live blue crabs or 1/2 pound lump crabmeat
1 1/2 pounds peeled Yukon Gold or other waxy potatoes (about 3 large potatoes), cut into 1-inch dice
3 ears fresh corn, cut into 6 pieces
6 whole canned plum tomatoes, drained and crushed
2 pounds large headless shrimp (26 - 30 per pound), shells on
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

1. Heat the oil in an 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the sausage. (Don't overcrowd the pot; if you have a narrow-bottomed stockpot, cook the sausage in batches.) Sear until golden brown along the sides, then turn and brown on another side, about 6 minutes total. Remove with tongs and reserve in a medium bowl. Add the chiles and gently toast in the oil and sausage fat until they discolor and release some of their fragrance, about 30 seconds on each side. Add the celery and onion and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.

2. Add 2 cups broth to the pot. Using a wooden spoon, stir in tight circles, scraping up any caramelized brown bits from the bottom. Bring the broth to a boil and boil until reduced by one quarter, about 6 minutes. Pour the remaining 6 cups broth into the pot, add the shrimp boil, salt, and bay leaves, and cover. When the broth simmers, turn the heat to medium-low, uncover, and simmer vigorously while you clean the crabs.

3. Using tongs, drop 2 live crabs at a time into the simmering broth and cook until their shells turn bright orange, about 2 minutes. Transfer the crabs to a colander set in the sink and run cold water over them. Add the next 2 live crabs to the pot and repeat until all the crabs have been cooked. As each cooked crab becomes cool enough to handle, remove the face (the strip on the front that encompasses the eyes and the mouth) with kitchen scissors. Then slip your thumb in the gap created between the top and bottom shells and pull off the top shell, exposing the feathery gills. Discard the top shell and the gills. Turn the crab over and slide the tip of a knife beneath where the cape of shell tapers to a point; lift the bottom shell off and discard. (If you find any orange crab roe, add it to the pot.) With a cleaver (or with your hands), split each crab down the middle and drop both halves in the stew. Repeat until all the crabs have been returned to the pot.

4. Add the potatoes and continue to cook until they have softened a bit but are not yet fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Add the corn, tomatoes, and reserved sausage, along with any juices it may have released, cover, and increase the heat to medium-high. When the stew comes to a vigorous simmer, reduce the heat to low, uncover, and continue to simmer gently for 10 minutes, or until the tine of a fork easily pierces the potatoes. Add the crabmeat, if using, and the shrimp, stir to distribute them throughout the stew, and simmer about 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.

5. For optimal flavor, refrigerate for 24 hours, then reheat the stew gradually, over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Serve in large bowls, garnished with the lemon slices.

For a stripped down version of of Frogmore Stew, check out this recipe for Frog More-or-Less Stew at Lucindaville.

Today, I'm making Brunswick stew for the game. No squirrel but a bit of venison. Roll Tide.


  1. I have this one-I have struggled to find things that are doable? what is missing,besides my lack of culinary skills?G

  2. There is an inherent, "prissyness" in Southern cookbooks that no one seems to get away from. The Lee Bros. are no exception! It's not you! Honest.


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