Looking for a fun way to launch into summer? Might I suggest a simple, fresh seafood boil. This classic-but-often-overlooked American pastime not only features delicious, universally appealing fare, it also manages to involve the outdoors, the grill and good wine. It's big fun, low stress and with a little extra prep work, practically hosts itself.
Still unsure? Not after you get a load of our five-step prep.
Gather up the plates, spices, trash bins, newspaper (to line table), and clear a prep spot in the backyard (preferably separate from your entertaining space). All the fun will take place on the big table to be sure, but it’s nice to also have a side table for drinks and accoutrements.
This is the fun part. Get your water up to a rolling boil and get ready for something delicious. For our TIH-tested and approved recipes, flip to the back of this story. You’ll find more where those came from at TheInspiredHome.com/Journal. Every last dish featured here is easy to make — and even better to eat. Don’t be surprised if they become your new summer staple.
Line tables with newspaper — I lay down three or four layers, because you’re not at a fish boil if you’re not getting messy. Bring out big bowls for shells and cobs, and by all means set out straws. Buttered and oiled hands don’t lend well to gripping beverages, so set the table with tall glasses spiked with straws. Straw-sipping wine is optional of course, but not as optional is the wine’s variety: Dry, crisp whites or roses are made for fish like PB is made for J.
Line large bowls down the center of the table, and encourage your guests to discard their shells into them. This strategic setting serves a dual purpose: more room for eating and less time on clean-up duty. In a second lineup of small bowls, serve melted butter sprinkled with pepper and other spices. Hot sauce for dipping goes without saying.
One of the best parts of a seafood boil is getting to eat with your hands, so embrace the mess! Make sure every spot at the table has a bib (and have a few extra on-hand for the drop-by guest and extra-messy eaters). Place crackers and tools within easy reach.
Serve the boil right on top of the newspaper. I like to set out little dishes of toothpicks as well for picking up the bits of potato or sausage that are too hot to handle. In their fabulously utilitarian way, the toothpicks, bibs, straws and newspaper will send the subliminal signal that this party not only accepts mess — it demands it! Using mismatched tableware (for the condiment bowls, for example, or water glasses), is another great way to support the casual vibe.
Nearly as great as the food served at this party is its clean-up shift: Dump food scraps and paper products onto newspaper; wad up newspaper; toss. Done! The glassware can wait until tomorrow. For tonight, pour yourself another glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy the good company (and good mojo) you orchestrated with your simple summer seafood boil.