Southern Palate: The History of Frogmore Stew
Frogmore Stew, also referred to as Lowcountry Boil, has deep roots in the coastal region of South Carolina and embodies community, friendship and the delight of shared meals – three things near and dear to our hearts at Kiawah River. The name and original recipe for the seafood-based dish is attributed to a local shrimper named Richard Gay, of Gay Fish Company, who is said to have coined the name in the 1960’s after his hometown, Frogmore, a small community on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.
However, the ingredients, techniques and communal spirit that surround Frogmore Stew are rooted in the culinary traditions of the Gullah-Geechee people. The Gullah-Geechee people are a distinct African-American cultural group residing in the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, known for preserving unique language, traditions and heritage stemming from their West African roots. To sustain their communities, they adapted their ancestral cooking techniques to the local seafood and produce that was readily available.
While there are many different variations of this popular one-pot feast, it traditionally features four primary ingredients boiled together in a large pot: fresh shrimp, sweet corn on the cob, new potatoes and smoked sausage. Frogmore Stew is drained and typically served on a platter – or on a newspaper-covered table for easy cleanup –making it the ideal family-friendly dish for your next get-together.
At Kiawah River, our favorite version of this southern staple is courtesy of Mike Lata, chef and co-owner of FIG in Charleston, SC and includes a Lowcountry twist: stone crab claws. Featured by Francine Maroukian at Garden & Gun, this classic and delicious recipe offers a combination of flavors and textures that is sure to please everyone at your party – or picnic table.
Frogmore Stew: The Lowcountry in One Pot
1/2 cup (at least) Old Bay Seasoning
16 small new potatoes, about 1-inch diameter, rinsed but not peeled (about 3/4 lbs.)
1/2 lb. smoked sausage (kielbasa), cut into 16 1/2-inch thick coins
2 medium sweet onions, peeled but not trimmed, quartered lengthwise from stem to root
3 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut into thirds
16 largest available fresh shrimp, preferably white Carolina shrimp with head on (you may want more depending on size of shrimp)
8 stone crab claws (about 2 lb.)
Bring a large stockpot (at least 12-quart) of water (filled 2/3 of the way, about 9 quarts) to a simmer. Add Old Bay and simmer to infuse. (The water should be abundantly seasoned and aromatic.)
Add potatoes, sausage coins, and sweet onions, and bring to a lazy simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 18 minutes.
Keeping water at a lazy simmer, add corn, and cook until kernels are slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add shrimp and crab claws and cook until the shrimp becomes pink and white (instead of opaque), about 5 or 6 minutes. Strain solids from cooking liquid and transfer them to an oversize platter.
Serve with soft butter and olive oil (for potatoes and corn), sea salt, Tabasco, and cocktail sauce. Lemon wedges and chopped hot peppers (like jalapeño) are also sometimes served as accompaniments.