Hosting a seafood boil is something I had been thinking of for a while. A year actually. It was originally planned for mid summer to celebrate my birthday, however it was pushed back to make way for the secret garden tour preparations.
The seafood boil ended up happening in the fall, which actually turned out to be a great time to have it. Earlier this year we sadly said goodbye to a great neighbour family that had moved on to follow their dreams of living in BC. Due to varying summer schedules the chance to formally host dinner with our new neighbours to welcome them had not occurred.
It turned out that a wonderfully warm fall evening was available for our neighbours that share the open concept backyard with us. Drinks and appetizers on the deck were enjoyed as the seafood boil ingredients were added at various stages.
I am not sure about you, but when hosting dinner I do not like to be too tied up in the kitchen prepping and cooking while guests are in attendance. Sure you need to give them a little bit of culinary action to enjoy and engage in, but not have to be so absorbed in preparing the meal that you can not talk or visit.
This is the best outdoor dinner for balancing the opportunity to catch up and chat while having the audience right there to observe the building of the boil. As you add each stage of ingredients the aroma further develops and let me tell you by the end everyone is ready to dig in.
It was great having the stuffed mushroom appetizers before hand and the side salad to accompany the meal. Each dish was graciously put together by our guests and the combination was fantastic. Trust me on the appetizer bit. Having something to nibble on as you sip cocktails and wait for the main course is a must.
The broth can be prepared ahead of time and the ingredients added as you go along. Apart from the initial heating of the broth, the actual cooking time is relatively quick.
It was easy to make a game out of the outdoor cooker safety timer as it would turn off automatically. We all would guess when to crank the dial next to keep the fire on and finally settled on every 12 minutes. Good to know, otherwise you may be there all night waiting for things to cook through.
Every once in a while I would run to the kitchen to grab the next set of ingredients, pop them in and join the group. Super easy! And as an added bonus I could actually finish a cocktail or 2 before dinner. Win.
We all left the deck and headed to the outdoor dining area once everything was finished cooking. My massive bread bowl was filled to the brim! There was serious doubts that a single shrimp more could be added. The kids were busy doing their own thing and this included my daughter so full advantage of an adults only evening was taken.
The air was still, the lights were dimmed and the little dining nook in the corner of the yard was filled with stories and laughter and a great memory was made. The night lasted till the wee hours of the morning as more and more libations were carried out from the houses.
The night was a great way to get to know our new neighbours and catch up with the ones next door. Surprisingly there were some leftovers that made a fantastic chunky seafood bisque with Parmesan thyme biscuits that our family enjoyed later on.
So if you are looking for a great outdoor meal that is easy to prepare, feeds an army and has guests coming back for more – This is your ticket! It may easily become an annual event for us.
Backyard Seafood Boil
*special equipment required is an large outdoor propane cooker
- 18-20 cups of water
- 4 lemons, cut in half
- 5 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup Old Bay seafood seasoning
- 2 garlic head, cut in half with loose peel removed
- 6 onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 dried chilies
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- 1 bunch thyme sprigs tied with twine
- 2 lbs of potatoes, quarter if larger in size
- 8 ears of corn, cut in half
- 2 lbs spicy sausage
- 2 lbs of mussels
- 6 lobster tails
- 2 lbs of shrimp
- Prepare the broth by combining the water, lemons, bay leaves, seafood seasoning, garlic, onions, chilies, salt and thyme in the large outdoor cooking pot. Place the lid and set to boil, minding any safety timer on the burner as you may need to continually reset the dial.
- While the broth mixture is boiling, prep and clean the seafood and other main ingredients so that they can be easily added later on.
- Once boiled, reduce hear and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and cook for approximately 10 minutes.
- Next add the corn and cook for approximately 5 minutes.
- Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes.
- Next add the lobster tails and mussels and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp just before ready to serve as it only takes a couple of minutes to cook.
- Remove the lemon rinds, thyme and bay leaves as you scoop the ingredients into an extra large serving bowl or rimmed platter. Serve with melted butter, salt and pepper for seasoning.*reserve strained broth for seafood stock which can frozen