Swap Turkey for Seafood with a Low Country Boil

By Stephanie Burt

This year, instead of relegating that fryer to the garage, transform it by using it to boil instead of fry. Replace the oil with water, fire up the heat and you have the makings for an easy, delicious and healthy meal.

One of the easiest “recipes” to begin with in your turkey fryer is a Low Country Boil. This recipe comes from coastal South Carolina, traditionally called the “Low Country.” Just as Thanksgiving often means cooking for a crowd, a pot of Low Country Boil will feed a lot of people. It’s a great option for cool-weather get-togethers, from tailgates to nights in the backyard by the fire pit.

Another great way to up the nutrition ante on your meal is to use local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Local food, or in other words, food that is grown close to where you live, has more nutrients remaining in it than those foodstuffs that have been shipped further distances (or in the case of seafood, even shipped from overseas). Choosing local vegetables and seafood when available supports the community, and it also supports your wellbeing.

Here’s how to build a healthy boil in your turkey fryer:

  1. Read your fryer directions and replace the amount of oil needed with water.
  2. If your fryer comes with a basket, place it in the fryer and add water. If not, just add water.
  3. Light the fryer, and once water is boiling, add:
  • A good handful of Old Bay Seasoning, seafood boil or other seasoning of your choice (about ¼ – ⅓ cup). Opt for flavorful herbs and spices to help minimize sodium.
  • 3-5 pounds of small red potatoes or other local varieties (farmer’s markets have a world of choices beyond russet and baking), kept whole if small or cut into 1.5-inch pieces

 Five to seven minutes later, add:

  • 6-7 ears of corn cut in half or 14 short ears or “niblets”
  • 1 pound of lean, kielbasa-style sausage, cut into 1-inch discs (Local butcher shops are increasingly carrying some interesting varieties.)

 10 minutes later, add:

  • 4 pounds of local, wild-caught American shrimp
  1. Cook for three minutes, or until the shrimp turns pink. If the fryer has a basket, carefully lift it to drain. If not, use a spider strainer to remove items promptly.
  2. Pile all ingredients on top of clean newspaper on a picnic table and serve with lemon, hot sauce and plenty of napkins.

Eating healthy from a fryer is easy!

Stephanie is a native North Carolinian who grew up on good Southern cooking and lots of books. She is the host of The Southern Fork, a weekly podcast where she travels with a fork and shares some of the most interesting stories in the culinary South. She writes for a variety of publications and is a culinary expert for The Home Depot.

When you want to feed a crowd (or just you and your family) without the prep and clean up, rely on restaurants to serve up something great.