Dirty Down-Home Cajun Shrimp Boil

One of the funky, backwater delights of Cajun country is a huge pot of shrimp boiled along with potatoes and corn in a ton of spicy seasonings, spilled onto a table (platters are optional), dunked in dipping sauce, and devoured with pitchers of ice-cold beer. Sometimes the boil gets a little “cleaned up”, and the spices are enclosed in cheesecloth before going into the pot. I prefer it the way it is in the following recipe, where the shrimp ends up littered with all kinds of tasty seeds and peppers.


6 quarts water
3 cups beer
4 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
4 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 Tbsp celery seeds
15 bay leaves
1/4 cup cayenne pepper
5 Tbsp coriander seeds
3 Tbsp dill seeds
2 Tbsp cloves
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
5 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
5 tsp Tabasco
2/3 cup Season-All (seasoned salt)
1/3 cup table salt
6 large garlic cloves, smashed
3 lemons, quartered
2 large jalapeño chiles, quartered
2 large onions, quartered
18 new potatoes (or 6 medium potatoes cut in thirds)
6 ears of fresh corn, shucked and broken in half
3 lbs large shrimp, shell on


  1. Bring water and beer to a boil in a very large and heavy stock pot. While its heating up, add to the pot all the ingredients except the potatoes, corn, and shrimp. Boil rapidly for 15 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, and boil for 5 more minutes.
  3. Add corn, and boil for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp and immediately turn off heat. Let pot stand, covered, until shrimp are just cooked, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Pour contents of pot into a very large colander (or 2 colanders). Let liquid drain away. Remove lemons and reserve.
  6. Pour contents of colander(s) onto one or more platters or onto brown paper covering a large table.
  7. Holding reserved lemons in a towel, squeeze juice over everything.
  8. Serve hot with Susan’s Favorite Dipping Sauce (see recipe below).


6-8 servings


Sendik’s magazine

Susan’s Favorite Dipping Sauce

3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp Heinz Chili Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco
1 tsp brown mustard
1 tsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

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