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Peel-n-Eat Picnic: The key ingredient is a hot backyard fire

Peel-n-Eat Picnic: The key ingredient is a hot backyard fire

From the Cocktails, kebabs and a whole lot more: Your guide to outdoor cooking series
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Join Feast publisher Cat Neville for Campfire Cooking: The peel-n-eat shrimp boil is made delicious by cooking over the flames of a bonfire pit. Dump out on newspaper and dig in with your hands!

Campfire Cooking is sponsored by Beachcomber Camping Resort.

The hardest part of making this simple, downright delicious campfire meal is making sure your fire is hot enough to keep the broth at a boil.

Whether you’re at a campsite or planning to cook this over your backyard fire pit, the first step is to build a hot, fast fire. You want to have dancing flames – you don’t want the fire to have reduced to coals because you need the flames to reach the bottom of your pot. Once you are ready to begin cooking, position a tripod over the fire and hang a cast-iron Dutch oven directly over the flames.

The only real prep work that this one-pot meal requires is making the spice sachet, which is easily adapted to your own preferences. Dislike coriander? Leave it out. If you have fresh herbs on hand, add those to the mix. Parsley, thyme, fresh dill, tarragon… you can tie on-the-stem herbs together with twine and add them to the pot when you drop in the salt and spices. Beer makes a nice addition to the boil as well – a hoppy IPA will add a bitter edge to the broth.

The best part of this shrimp boil is that you just dig in and eat it with your hands. This presentation is a great way to get everyone together around the picnic table, diving into a flavorful feast spread out on newspapers. Be sure to have lots of napkins nearby along with cold beer and a bowl for your shrimp shells.

Clean up is a snap – just wad up the newspapers and toss them. And remember, never use soap to clean cast-iron. Just a rinse with hot water, a scrub with salt and a coat of oil is all it takes to keep your Dutch oven in perfect shape and ready for the next cookout.

Shrimp Boil Recipe

Yields | 4 servings

  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seed
  • 1 Tbsp celery seed
  • 1 Tbsp dill seed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 8 to 10 whole allspice berries
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 to 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 lb tiny new potatoes (roughly ½ lb each person)
  • 1 lb shell on, deveined 16-20 shrimp (this will allow 4 to 5 shrimp per person)
  • 2 ears corn, cut into thirds
  • 1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced
  • lemon wedges, for serving

| Preparation | To make your spice sachet, place peppercorns, mustard seed, coriander seed, celery seed, dill seed, red pepper flakes, allspice and bay leaves on a double layer of 6-by-6-inch cheesecloth. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and tie tightly with kitchen twine.

Build your fire so that it has active flames. Position a tripod over the fire and hang a cast-iron Dutch oven directly over the flames, feeding the fire as needed. Fill pot with water. Once the water is at a boil, add spice sachet and salt. Allow the spices to steep for about 10 minutes. Add onion and garlic and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes.

Make sure your fire is nice and hot so your water will continue to boil as you add the remaining ingredients. Drop your potatoes in the water and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender and easily pierced with a knife. Add the shrimp, corn and andouille sausage to the pot and simmer just until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon or a spider, scoop everything out of the pot and onto a picnic table layered with newspaper. Squirt everything with lemon and dig in with your hands!

Emmy-winning host Cat Neville is the publisher of Feast Magazine and the producer of tasteMAKERS, which airs nationally on PBS. She has been in food media for about 20 years and when she’s not on the road, she can usually be found playing around with new flavors in her St. Louis kitchen. 
This content was produced by Brand Ave. Studios in collaboration with the sponsor. The news and editorial departments had no role in its creation or display. For more information about Brand Ave. Studios, contact

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