Come October in the South Carolina lowcountry, when the shrimp season overlaps high blue crab season, it’s time to make Frogmore Stew!
Named for Frogmore, South Carolina, a town of about ten thousand people in the low-lying wetlands between Beaufort and St. Helena Island, this stew quite literally seems to have emerged from the marshes: it puts shrimp and crab front-and-center, and it’s often served by outdoorsy characters, at hunting stations, fish shacks, and boatyards. And more than any other stew, Frogmore (which is also sometimes referred to as Lowcountry Boil) lives up to the spirit of one-pot dining, with whole, shell-on shrimp, split crabs, corn-on-the-cob, and smoked sausages bobbing around in a richly-concentrated shellfish broth.
Frogmore Stew is designed to be consumed outdoors, where its messiness seems less onerous, but if the autumn weather’s too chilly where you live, bring the party inside; this dish gets people in an upbeat, fun-loving mood the way a good soundtrack does, and for that reason, we often serve it indoors with clean dish towels for napkins, sheets of newspaper to protect the table, and plenty of waster bowls for the shrimp shells, crab shells, and spent corncobs. For a rare treat, be sure to suck on the shrimp before peeling them – the legs and shell hold tons of flavor!
Below, we provide a simple variation that makes this rustic stew a more elegant dish for a white-tablecloth dinner. Whichever way you choose to serve it, Frogmore Stew is guaranteed to bring warmth and festivity to your home this Fall.
What to drink: A tart white like an Albariño or even a Muscadet would be the right match for this stew’s marriage of shellfish and smoky sausage; if it’s wintry outdoors, open a medium-bodied, fruity red like Beaujolais Villages.