15 Steps to the Perfect Sunday Dinner
As a native of south Georgia, in particular one of the 6 coastal counties, I was recently amazed at the fact that #1 I had never been crabbing and #2 it’s really NOT easy but it is fun! Below I will recount some of that adventure in my bid to have the perfect Sunday dinner, a low country boil complete with Georgia blue crabs.
#1 You have to know how to crab or have someone who knows how. Seems like a no-brainer right, you throw one of those colorful little baskets in the water and viola crabs run in & you’re all set! Um yeah, no, not quite. First you have to have the basket yes, next you need bait. We used uncooked, raw chicken (yuck). That gets put in the bait well of the basket, then you have to “sew” the basket up if you don’t have one of the fancy new ones, which we don’t. And then you have to find a place to throw them out (with proper licensing and following rules/regs if you’re doing it in open water). And then the timing…very important. It’s best to put them out at mid-tide, outgoing or low incoming (not at high tide basically). And then LEAVE THEM ALONE!
#2 LEAVE THEM ALONE! Don’t mess with the traps. Pulling them up every 10 minutes or even every couple hours will net you a smaller catch. The science to crab trapping includes the trap becoming part of the landscape for the crabs. They are attracted by your bait and the tides that sweep them along make sure that they are carried to your traps. Once they enter the trap after your bait they are stuck!
#3 We waited about 24 hours for our traps. And yes, I couldn’t wait I did pull them about 6 hours in just to check & put them back out. After pulling them up for the final time the fun began! Those little buggers are vicious! Make sure you either have thick gloves or a “crab grabber” it’s a real tool that you can buy. It was hot, sweaty and potentially dangerous work (while little, a crab claw pinch really hurts!) to get them out of the traps and into our bucket for cooking. And while they are in the bucket, prior to cooking, it is important to keep them either in water or sprayed down.
#4 Start your water in a low country boil pot and burner. This is all done outside in case you are unaware. We added the following to the water for seasoning: salt, pepper and Old Bay (really a staple in coastal Georgia). The pot should be filled to leave about 5 inches clearance at the top so that when you add the food items it doesn’t overflow. It needs to come to a rolling boil.
#5 Get your food ready! Like any good Low Country Boil we used fresh corn, red skinned potatoes and onions. Everything was washed and cut if necessary. We did cut the corn cobs in half and the onions. The potatoes stay whole.
#6 Onions are dropped in the pot! Remember the water must be at a rolling boil. Keeping the pot lid on helps keep the heat inside as
well. For us the onions were more about seasoning the water than our actual intent to eat them. We left the onions in for about 20 minutes before adding anything else.
#7 Then we added the corn and potatoes. The potatoes are going to take the longest to cook other than the crab. We let the potatoes cook a good 20 minutes and then added the sausage. We used smoked sausage and just cut it in pieces.
#8 The crabs are going in! Now this part is a little interesting because they are still alive. You’re about to drop them in boiling water. They are going to die immediately. If you’re tenderhearted this is not the task you want to undertake.
#9 The crabs need to stay boiling for at least 20 minutes. The water should return to a boil after you dump them in, with the lid on and then boil for a solid 20 minutes.
#10 The last 2-4 minutes you add the shrimp. We of course used Georgia White Shrimp! Yummy! Shrimp are “done” when they turn pink. We did not remove the shells before cooking. Important to note is that if you cook shrimp too long the shells become very difficult to remove & the shrimp are tough.
#11 Pull the basket! Low Country Boil pots have a basket inside where the food is placed so you’re not actually having to haul that huge pot to the table.
#12 Now the fun parts begin. Of course most of the food is right there, you can pick it up off the table you’ve dumped it on and enjoy, but the shrimp and crab require a little more work. If you’ve never peeled a shrimp the trick….grip the tail, squeeze lightly and slide the shell forward with your other hand. Easy, peasy.
#13 The crab are not so easy. “De-backing” a crab is some work. Not clean work. First you have to literally pry the back off with your hands. From there you discard the back (some people keep them and use them for devilled crab). Then you have to remove what is called the “Dead Man’s Fingers” or the crab’s lungs. You DO NOT want to eat those, they will make you very sick. Then you get the joy of scraping the inside of the crab out, as again, you don’t want to eat that. It’s pretty distinctive mushy looking stuff.
#14 We rinsed the crabs after de-backing them in cold water just to rinse any final goo away and then we put the crabs only back in the basket and back in the pot of still really hot water just to give them one final rinse and also to add flavor to the inside. Only for a minute or two though.
We enjoyed our Sunday dinner very much even if it was a lot of work. The time spent was together was memorable and it really was an adventure for all of us. As someone who is a not a big fan of crab meat anyway I learned that I will continue with my dislike because they are a lot of work to catch, clean, cook and eat; however, since that much effort had been expended in this particular case I ate each and every one that came my way!
-Leah Poole, CEO of the Liberty County Chamber & CVB
The Right Blend Blog is written by three different authors employed by the Liberty County Chamber/CVB. As we are able, we rotate weeks and each write about our individual experiences, opinions and let our writing reflect our personalities and creativity. All content provided on The Right Blend blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.