Gameday Eats: Shrimp Boil Edition
The last time I checked in on a game day, I was talking up the spread offered to media members at a University of South Carolina football game. Pulled pork, fried chicken, and plenty of sweets dotted my plate, but unfortunately, not all NCAA schools offer up that kind of smörgåsbord.
A recent pre-game media buffet of cold Papa John’s at another institution proves my point. Fortunately, I’ve learned which spreads are the best to hit up in my time covering college football, and in this case I was prepared. Hitting the concrete to check out the pregame tailgates, I was fortunate enough to hook up with some readers who treated me to an authentic low-country shrimp boil.
These guys were pros. Based out of the mid-atlantic where they live and work, this crew was nevertheless made up of LSU grads who’ve taken their shared love of food and football and turned it into a serious hobby. Not only do they run a BBQ competition each year, but they serve up some awesome shrimp and vegetables.
This was my first shrimp boil, but judging by the food and atmosphere, I’m going to have to get to some more in the near future. In terms of presentation, you can’t beat it. I mean, what says weekend football eating more than a whole crapload of food served up a table, all the while begging to be devoured with absolutely no utensils?
Our crew loaded up the pot with all the usual suspects: sausage, Zatarain’s seasoning, potatoes, celery, onions, and even artichokes. After the potatoes reached the peak of tenderness and the vegetables had absorbed all the spicy pork fat and seasonings, corn was added. Then, the whole mix got dumped out for all to enjoy, including this spice “novice” who got a spicy introduction to authentic Cajun flavors.
After the mix got dumped out, the jumbo shrimp got a quick dunk, growing so juicy in the bold seasonings that I almost forgot to rip the shells off when I dug in. The seasonings were intense — heavy on the cayenne spice, but also with hints of lemon — and the flavors bold, with the onions and celery developing a buttery, melt-in-your mouth tenderness with hints of smoked sausage flavor. All told, I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed corn on the cob more. Super sweet, but with a kick, I almost preferred it to the shrimp. Almost.
Gotta admit, I could get used to these shrimp boils. But when it comes to tailgating, I still can’t think of anything that beats a perfectly smoked pulled pork sandwich with baked beans. Sure beats cold pizza in the press box.
What’s on your game day menu this weekend?