Frogmore Stew always has had a special place in the hearts of Beaufort residents Stacey Patterson Canaday and Mel Arant, both of whom are heading up Thursday's Lowcountry Supper at the Beaufort Water Festival, which will feature the traditional Lowcountry dish.
Canaday, this year's coordinator for the event, recalls catching shrimp as a young girl with her father, then making a Frogmore Stew with their bounty.
Arant, this year's galley captain of the supper, said he used to look forward to eating Frogmore Stew when he was growing up in the farming community of Aynor, where the dish usually was served toward the end of tobacco season.
"Someone would always make a run down to Beaufort to get fresh shrimp for our Frogmore Stew," Arant recalled.
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The 1,200 pounds of fresh shrimp being served at Thursday's supper of Frogmore Stew will certainly be fresh. In fact, they're being pulled from area waters today, Canaday said.
The stew will be cooked by Arant and volunteers in the Beaufort Naval Hospital Galley on Thursday and delivered to the park by Steve Wynn, dock captain. Among the volunteers are folks from the Sea Island Rotary, Lowcountry Rotary, Beaufort Rotary, Navy Chief Petty Officers and the water festival's Lowcountry Supper cooking committee.
It will take about 100 volunteers to cook and serve the supper of 308 pounds of cole slaw, 3,500 rolls, 300 gallons of iced tea and lemonade and 50 watermelons.
"I think the Lowcountry Supper is a favorite and traditional event for Beaufort's Water Festival," said Canaday, a festival volunteer for almost 10 years. Lowcountry Supper has been an annual event since 1974. "It is a good and family friendly environment."
Following the meal, guests will be entertained by The Whistlers, a group of former water festival commodores, who dress in oversized hats that cover their faces and mid-sections. The Broke Locals, a cover band that plays rock, reggae and funk, will open the show. They will be followed by Too Much Sylvia, which plays music from the 1980s to Top 40 hits.
Arant advises guests to bring their appetites. And he promises to sample the food -- just to make sure it's up to par.
"We have got to make sure they taste right before we send them out into the community," Arant said.
BEAUFORT WATER FESTIVAL FROGMORE STEW
Makes: 3,500 servings
250 ounces Old Bay Seasoning
3,500 ears of corn
1,100 pounds of sausage
1,200 pounds of fresh shrimp (provided by Sea Eagle Market this year)
Fill a 20-gallon commercial cooking vat with water and add Old Bay Seasoning. Stir with giant stainless steel paddles, until the chef says it "looks right," Arant said. "There can never be too much Old Bay."
When water begins to boil, add corn. Put corn and the water in which it was cooked into a cooler to keep warm.
In a separate vat, season water with more Old Bay Seasoning, add sausage and bring to a boil. Put sausage and juices into a cooler to keep warm.
In a separate vat, add more Old Bay Seasoning to water, bring to a boil and add about 50 pounds of shrimp at one time. Once shrimp float, and the white part turns pink they are done. Immediately drain water off shrimp and pack in ice.
With such a large quantity of food, the ingredients are cooked separately to ensure food safety. The corn and sausage are packed in coolers in their own juices to keep them warm and to ensure that the seasoning seeps into the ingredients, Arant said.
STACEY'S FROGMORE STEW
OK, maybe you never need to make Frogmore Stew for 3,500 people. For (much) smaller parties try this recipe from Stacey Patterson Canaday, coordinator for the Beaufort Water Festival Lowcountry Supper.
Makes: 10 servings
1 cup Old Bay Seasoning
5 pounds red (new) potatoes
2 dozen ears of corn, broken in half
4 (1 pound packages) beef sausage cut into bite sized pieces
5 pounds of shrimp (about1/2 pound per person)
Fill a large stock pot with water, add 1 cup of Old Bay Seasoning. Once water is boiling, add 5 pounds of red or new potatoes and boil for about 5 minutes. Add corn and cook until done. Add sausage just until warm. When water returns to a boil, add shrimp and cook until they are pink -- no more than 5-8 minutes.
Drain water off of ingredients and serve over a newspaper-covered picnic table. Serve with butter for the corn. Canaday adds extra horseradish to the cocktail sauce for a spicier taste.
Add items to taste including whole onions, and when available blue crabs.
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