I don't know this for a fact, but I'm guessing that for many of us the 4th of July is going to be a little more low-key than normal this year. Maybe (probably...hopefully?) we're not convening huge groups of people; maybe it feels weird to celebrate; maybe we just haven't had the time or the energy to plan something SO FESTIVE. Whatever it is, if you're looking for a way to make the 4th feel like a special occasion without expending an extra effort, a good old-fashioned New Orleans Shrimp Boil might just be the thing.
When I say you won't expend any extra effort making this, I really mean it. You boil some potatoes in a mixture of water, beer, and flavorful things (onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cayenne) until they're almost tender. Then you toss in some shrimp (peeled or not) and some ears of corn that you've broken in half and let that hang out for a few minutes until the shrimp are pink and the potatoes are done (you could also add some chunks of cooked sausage, like andouille, if you were so inclined). Pour everything into a strainer over a big bowl, and serve the shrimp/potatoes/corn with hot sauce, lemon wedges, and some of that delicious cooking liquid at the table for dipping.
To maximize the festiveness, lay some newspaper over your table and pour the goodies (strained first, please) directly on top. No plates, no forks, plenty of cold beer. The newspaper thing is optional, of course, but it actually does make the whole experience infinitely more satisfying; in fact, when it comes to the all-time list of low-effort, high-enjoyment dishes, a seafood boil spilled out onto the table and eaten with your hands has to be somewhere in the top ten.
The recipe here is for four people, but is very easy to scale up (more shrimp, more potatoes, more corn, more liquid) if you're cooking for a larger crowd. And if you already have your July 4th menu set, just consider this a recipe to stash in your back pocket for a summer day when you want to have a lot of fun but don't want to do a lot of work. See you Friday.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.