Last week we had the pleasure of spending time at our family house in Morehead City with my some of my immediate family. This was our first family vacation with two toddlers, and the week was the most wonderful combination of big adventures, like day spent taking the boat up to Cape Lookout, and quiet family moments, like letting the kids splash in a baby pool on the back porch.
The house was built in the 1950’s by the Hillsborough Volunteer Fire Department as a seaside retreat, one that was quickly co-opted by wives and children so it became less poker lodge and more family getaway. My great uncle and great grandfather were two of the firemen, and the house remains shared by their decedents. These days my parents live just across the marsh from the house, which means that we are able to spend a good amount of time on Calico Creek, something that is undoubtably good for my soul.
We mostly cooked at home this week, grilling steaks, frying grouper bites, making pesto pasta with the basil and garlic from my brother’s garden. We kept it simple, enjoying good meals around the big table that has been the platform of generations of family dinners. One evening after a day spent on Shackleford Banks we pulled all the chairs on to the front porch and feasted on a seafood boil. With the marsh lapping the side of the house at high tide we ate corn, sausage, shrimp, clams, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, potatoes, and mushrooms all cooked together with hot pepper.
A seafood boil, also known as Frogmore Stew, a low country boil, or just a boil, can consist of whatever you have on hand. Corn, potatoes, shrimp, and sausage are staples, but the addition of everything from broccoli to crab can make for a delicious boil. The real trick is lining the table with newspaper, pouring out the boil in the middle and sitting together as you pick through the food. That’s the real fun of it.
5lbs head-on shrimp
2 dozen clams
2 lbs andouille sausage, cooked
3lbs small red potatoes
3 large yellow onions
2 heads of garlic
10 ears of corn
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 dozen white button mushrooms
1/4 cup Old Bay seasoning
1/2 cup sea salt
Bottle of Texas Pete
Fill a very large pot (with strainer basket if you have one) halfway with water and bring to a rolling boil. Quarter the onions and add to the pot, along with peeled garlic cloves and whole potatoes. Add sea salt, Old Bay, and Texas Pete. Halve the lemons and add to the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
Cut your sausage into 3” pieces and add to the pot. Break corn in half and add to the pot after the sausage has simmered for 10 minutes. At the same time add Brussels sprouts.