Lobster (or Other Seafood) Boil


The perfect shore dinner, a summer one-pot meal like no other.
TIME 45 minutes
MAKES 4 servings
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds or 1 teaspoon ground
3 cloves
Salt
1 pound small waxy red or white potatoes, halved or left whole
2 large onions, quartered
4 ears fresh corn, shucked and cut in half
Four 1½-pound lobsters, 16 to 24 blue or rock crabs, 3 pounds whole crawfish, or 2 pounds unpeeled shrimp
2 lemons, quartered, for serving
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted, optional


Method
1 Fill a stockpot halfway with water, add the bay leaves, thyme, peppercorns, garlic, coriander, cloves, a small handful (seriously) of salt, the potatoes, and the onions.

2 Bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the potatoes and onions until they are tender and can be speared easily with a sharp knife, 8 to 10 minutes from when the water comes to a boil. Fish the potatoes out of the pot with a strainer (trying to leave the onions and seasonings behind) and put them on a large platter.

3 Add the corn to the pot, bring the water back to a boil, and cook until it’s bright yellow, about 2 minutes. Transfer the corn to the platter with tongs.

4 Add whatever seafood you’re using to the pot (use tongs for the lobsters or crabs). Bring the water back to a gentle but steady boil, cover, and cook: The lobsters will take 10 to 12 minutes; crabs and crawfish 5 to 10 minutes; shrimp 3 to 5 minutes. When cooked, the lobster, crab, and crawfish will be bright red and the shrimp pale pink and opaque throughout. To make sure the lobster is fully cooked, insert a quickread thermometer into the joint at the base of the tail and into the tail meat; it should read between 140°F and 150°F.

5 Transfer the seafood and onions with tongs or a small strainer to the platter with the potatoes and corn. Ladle some of the juices into a bowl to serve on the side along with the lemon wedges and some melted butter if you like.

Tips
  • The best way to eat lobster, crab, crawfish, or shell-on shrimp is with your hands: Break the pieces apart at the joints and pick at the meat until it separates from the shell. (Many people believe sucking the shells dry is the best part of this meal.) It’s also helpful to have nutcrackers and picks (or small mallets) handy to get every last bit.
  • Some serving suggestions: A seafood boil is meant to be a lot of fun to eat (it’s often served directly on newspaper so you can bundle up the mess when you’re done). Whatever way you go, don’t use the fancy tablecloth or china, put out plenty of napkins (and lots of cold beer for the adults), and scatter loaves of crusty bread and bottles of hot sauce around the table.

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