Being from the upper Midwest, I had never heard of a “shrimp boil” or “low country boil” before I moved to Georgia many years ago. And the first time I ever actually ate this was only about 5 years ago. For those of you who don’t know, it’s basically shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn on the cob cooked (usually outside in a big pot) with seasonings like Old Bay or Zataran’s. In Louisiana, they tend to make it a little spicier, but for the most part it’s basically the same thing. I used to hang out with some folks who loved to do shrimp boils. They would get it all cooking outside, then dump the cooked goods on a table covered with paper and everyone just dug in, communal buffet style. Its a fun and tasty way to feed a crowd. Generally there is some sort of sauce served with it – like a remoulade or other mayonnaise based seafood sauce, a butter sauce, or a cocktail sauce. I think everyone has their own favorite sauce, but I like standard cocktail sauce best.
Some restaurants serve a “low country plate” on their menu, in which they serve the same mixture of shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn with all of the seasonings, but served on a plate, of course, because it is kind of hard to do a boil for one person at a table.
I’ve mentioned before that my hubby is on a self-imposed very restrictive diet due to digestive issues. One of the items he eliminated from his diet is corn (and all corn based products). Additionally, he doesn’t eat pork, so for the most part sausage is not in his diet. Being that corn and sausage make up half of what’s in a shrimp boil, and since there are only two of us in the house, we no longer eat this delicious dish.
I often get bored with food, so I’m always looking for something new to prepare. I also like the challenge of preparing dishes that my husband wouldn’t normally be able to eat, by substituting ingredients to make it Hubby-Friendly. For some reason I was craving this dish recently, so I decided I was going to set out to make a version of shrimp boil that he could eat, but that was also not too far off from the original recipe. First, I tried to find “friendly sausage,” meaning pork free, dairy free, and free of weird additives. Nearly impossible, but I did manage to find Hillshire Farms Natural line has an uncured smoked turkey sausage. It’s actually very good and relatively low in fat. Next, I needed a substitute for corn. I know this is silly, but I really wanted something yellow to make the dish look both appetizing and somewhat like the original, so I chose yellow summer squash. And finally, I knew I wasn’t going to actually do a boil outside, so I decided to make this a sheet pan meal instead.
One of the tricks with sheet pan meals is that some of the foods in the pan cook up faster than others, so you can end up with something a little burned, or something a bit under cooked if you put it all together at the same time. I’ve learned to start off with the longer cooking ingredients, then throw in the others later. Knowing that shrimp cooks super-fast, and potatoes take a bit longer, I decided to cook in stages. First, I boiled my potatoes on the stove. It’s sort of cheating, I guess, but it’s a very time efficient method. The potatoes boil while I cut up the other ingredients. For sheet pan meals, I prefer to use baby potatoes. And, I prefer baby golds over reds, so I picked up a small bag of Melissa’s Organic Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes and started by boiling them on the stove. While those were going, I peeled and cleaned the shrimp. If there is one thing that will make me gag at the table, it is biting into a sand vein in shrimp. Gross. Once the shrimp were nice and clean, I cut up the sausage and squash into large chunks. I decided they should go in the oven first. Once the potatoes were done I drained them and threw them onto the pan with the sausage and squash that were about half done at this point. And once the potatoes had started to crisp up a little on the outside, I threw in the shrimp for just a few minutes until they were pink.
One thing that is very important in a shrimp boil is the seasoning. You can buy shrimp boil seasoning to put in the water, but since I was doing a sheet pan meal, I decided to use Old Bay Seasoning. This stuff is kind of magical when it comes to seasoning seafood. Here’s my quick ‘n easy Shrimp Boil in a Sheet Pan!
Healthy Sheet Pan Shrimp “Boil”
1/2 to 3/4 lb. Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes (or baby reds)
2 medium size yellow squash (*or corn on the cob)
1 12 oz. package Hillshire Farms Naturals Uncured Turkey Kielbasa
1/2 lb. shrimp
2 or 3 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
Freshly cracked pepper, sea salt
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Lemon, cut into wedges
Remoulade or Cocktail Sauce
Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil, cooking over medium high heat until they can be easily pierced with a fork, without being too soft. While the potatoes cook, peel, devein, and wash the shrimp. Pat dry with a paper towel and put in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about a 1/2 tablespoon Old Bay. Toss to coat, then set aside. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the parchment paper, brushing it to lightly coat the paper. Cut the sausage and summer squash into large chunks (approximate 2″ pieces) and distribute evenly over the parchment paper. Sprinkle with a little bit of Old Bay Seasoning and some fresh pepper. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the squash begins to brown and looks almost done. Drain the potatoes, put into a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil, then season with 1 tablespoon of Old Bay (or more, to taste) and some salt and pepper. Carefully scoop these over the sausage and squash in the oven and cook another 10 minutes, or until the potato skins look like they are just starting to brown or crisp. Toss the seasoned shrimp and a few lemon wedges on top of the potatoes, sausage, and squash, and cook for another 3 minutes or until the shrimp just turns pink. Remove from oven, and scoop everything into a large serving bowl, squeezing some lemon juice over the top and adding additional seasoning if desired.
*Corn on the cob is traditionally used, but if you don’t like or can’t eat corn, yellow squash is an excellent substitute. If using corn, I would cut it into 2-3 inch pieces, pre-cook it, and toss it in with the sausage and potatoes.