Frogmore Stew contains no frogs. Actually, it isn’t really a stew either. It is one of the beloved recipes in the category of recipes known as Low country cuisine, the food local to South Carolina’s coastal towns and cities and the bit of coastline south of Savannah, Georgia. Also called a Low Country boil, Frogmore Stew showcases the seafood of the region, and, although it has a grandiose name, it’s simple to prepare.
Rather than a stew, I’d call it a boil, and I’d compare it to the seafood boils you can find in other coastal locales in the United States. With influences from the Native American, Caribbean, and African cultures that left their mark on the South, Frogmore Stew closely resembles the Louisiana crawfish boil. But without the chili that spikes Louisiana crawfish, the spicing of the Low Country version is less assertive. Also similar to the crab boils of the Chesapeake and the clambakes of New England, Frogmore Stew combines local shellfish (usually shrimp), corn, potatoes, sausage, and spices. Frogmore Stew is often cooked in huge batches and dumped on communal tables for large groups to share, so serving it is often a community affair. With origins that stretch back generations, it is a dish that has many variants. Although it is much older than just a few decades, its posh-sounding name was coined in the 1960s by Richard Gay, owner of The Gay Fish Company, who named it after the local community of Frogmore, on St. Helena’s Island, SC. It became popular among foodies nationwide when it was featured on the cover of Gourmet Magazine in the 1980s.
My family decided to cook up some Frogmore Stew while on vacation on beautiful Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, just a few short miles from Frogmore. The recipe we made has been tweaked by Hugh Acheson, a James Beard award-winning chef with two restaurants in Athens, GA and one in Atlanta. It features fresh shrimp, spicy Andouille sausage, sweet corn, new potatoes, tomato, leeks, and Old Bay seasoning. Usually, Frogmore Stew is meant to be drained from its cooking broth, spread out on newspapers, and served to a crowd, but we found the broth to be quite a delicious soup, so I would recommend eating it. Served simply with a crisp green salad, a good, crusty bread, and a delicious rosé, it was the perfect meal to end a day spent sunning ourselves on the beach.
You can find Hugh Acheson's recipe here. Try it out!
I'd love to know what you think! What's your favorite summertime seafood dish? Let me know in the comments.