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Shrimp. sausage and corn on the cob boiled together in seasoned water make a protion of Frogmore Stew
A plate of Frogmore Stew
Frogmore Stew
and Other Lowcountry Recipes

Frogmore Stew
(
Origins and Recipe)

Benne
(Sesame Seed)
Cookies/Wafers
and
Candy Recipes

Hoppin' John
and Greens
(For Good Luck on
New Year's Day!)

Okra Soup

Oyster
Dressing

Red Rice

Stewed Crabs
(A Recipe from 1847)

Sweet Potato
Pie

and

Sweet Potato
Pone


Single boiled shrimpFrogmore Stew
(also known as "Lowcountry Stew" and "Beaufort Boil")


Origins
(or go straight to Recipes)
by
Dennis Adams
Beaufort County Public Library
Information Services Coordinator

It seems that this seafood "boil" is a fairly recent recipe, not older than 60 years and more likely only about forty years old. According to Beaufort historian Gerhard Spieler, the kind of link sausage used in Frogmore Stew came to this area no earlier than the 1940s as a result of immigration (before then Beaufortonians used only patty-type sausage). Mr. Spieler believes that the recipe was the invention of local shrimpers who used whatever food items they had on hand to make a stew.

Sarah Rutledge's 1847 Charleston cookbook, The Carolina Housewife, had no recipes like the present-day mix of shrimp, corn and sausage. In a 1991 telephone interview, Emory Campbell, executive director of Penn Center on St. Helena Island, does not remember anything like the present-day Frogmore Stew when he was growing up – although boiled shrimp has always been a part of Sea Island daily life. Another St. Helena Island native, Agnes Sherman, could not recall any traditional recipe similar to what she preferred to call "Lowcountry Stew" (because Frogmore is only one of several St. Helena Island communities).

Cars parked outside the Steamer Restaurant at lunch time
The Steamer Restaurant
Photograph by Dennis Adams
(August 13, 2002)

 
Richard Gay of Gay Seafood Company claimed to have invented Frogmore Stew. On National Guard duty in Beaufort about 40 years ago, he was preparing a cookout of leftovers for his fellow guardsmen. He brought the recipe home with him, and it soon became popular in this area. According to Gay, the Steamer Restaurant on Lady's Island was the first establishment to offer Frogmore Stew commercially, almost 20 years ago. Gay campaigned to have Frogmore Stew declared the official seafood dish of South Carolina, but the recipe remains an "unofficial" delight.

(Above information based on 1991 telephone interviews with persons named and on The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutlege)

Single boiled shrimpSimple Frogmore Stew Recipe for 3-4 People:

Here is Dennis Adams' simple Frogmore Stew Recipe for 3-4 people:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 long links smoked beef sausage
  • 3-4 dozen ears shucked, cleaned corn on the cob (best if cut in half)
  • 1 1/2 pound shrimp, headed
  • Several heaping tablespoons of seafood seasoning (to taste)
INSTRUCTIONS:
 
Sauasage, raw shrimp, corn and seafood seasoning all ready for boiling
The basic fixings
Photograph by Dennis Adams
(November 20, 2006)

The corn, shrimp and sausage boiling  in water made golden by the seasoning powder
Almost done!
A heaping helping of frogmore stew on a plate
Ready to serve
Photographs by Dennis Adams
(November 20, 2006)

 

  • Fill a big pot halfway with water. Add seafood seasoning, cover pot and bring water to a boil.
  • Add corn, cover pot and cook for ten minutes at full boil.
  • Cut sausage into 2" pieces and add to corn in the pot. Cook for five minutes at full boil.
  • Add shrimp all at once. Cover pot and bring back to full boil. Cook until shrimp are reddish and completely done (sample one).
  • Pour contents pot into a colinder and let the liquid drain into a sink for a minute.
  • Put cooked sausage, corn, and shrimp on plates and serve hot!


NOTE:
Some people like to add potatoes to the recipe. If you do, add several medium potatoes, unpeeled and quartered, five minutes after the corn.

Single boiled shrimp Big Frogmore Stew Recipe for 30 People:

Here is a Frogmore Stew recipe, based on the South Carolina Wildlife Cookbook version, which serves 30 people.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 pounds smoked beef sausage in long links
  • 2 dozen ears shucked, cleaned corn
  • 1/2 bushel crabs
  • 15 pounds shrimp, headed
  • 2 small boxes of seafood seasoning (which brand is best has been a matter of friendly controversy)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Use a big, 20-gallon pot filled to about half full with water. The best thing is to clean the crabs before you put them in the pot. You can use the whole crab, too, but it takes up more room in the pot and is messier to eat.
  • Cut sausages in one-inch sections. Bring water to a boil put sausage and seasoning bags in water and let boil for about 10 minutes or so.
  • Put the corn in and bring back to a boil. Then put the crabs in and bring back to a boil. Finally, add the shrimp, and when the water comes back to a boil, pour off water. Serves 30 people.

Single boiled shrimpAlso ... try Matthew Hughes's recipe!


OTHER LOWCOUNTRY RECIPES:

Benne (Sesame Seed)
Cookies/Wafers or Candy Recipes

Benne Cookies/Wafers
(see also Candy recipe)

Benne cakes are a food from West Africa introduced to this area by slaves. "Benne" means sesame seeds. The sesame seeds are eaten for good luck. Wafers and cookies made from benne are now a part of Kwanzaa ("first fruit" in Swahili), the African-American family festival that lasts from December 26 through January 1.

INGREDIENTS:

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
(OPTIONAL: Add just a "jot" of sesame oil to the butter and sugar while creaming the mixture.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Cream butter and sugar together and mix with other ingredients in the order given. Drop with a teaspoon onto a well-greased cookie pan, far enough apart to allow spreading while baking. Bake in a 325 degree F oven for 7-10 minutes. (Yield: 7 dozen.)

SOURCE: Harriott Simons Marshall's recipe in Charleston Receipts, collected by the Junior League of Charleston (1950), as adjusted by Paul W. Murphey of Richland Center, Wisconsin (September 1999) and web administrator Dennis Adams.

Benne Candy
(see also Cookies/Wafers recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound brown sugar
1 1/2 cups benne seed, parched
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS:

Boil sugar with milk until it begins to thread. Remove from heat and beat in benne seed. Add vanilla and beat until creamy. Pour out inti buttered pan and cut into small squares.

SOURCE: The Beaufort Cookbook: A Treasury of Carolina Recipes (1965), collected by Dee Hryharrow and Isabel M. Hoogenboom.


Hoppin' John and Greens

According to the Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook (1978), the traditional New Year’s menu on the Sea Islands "is a simple one: Hoppin’ John, collard greens with hog jowls, and ribs for a side dish. Hoppin’ John, or brown field peas cooked with rice, is eaten for good luck throughout the year. The collard greens represent dollar bills. It is said the more one eats, the more money one will have."

In A South Carolina Christmas (1997), Jan Kiefer says to be sure to soak dried peas on New Year's Eve, at just the right time for the peas to "take up" the luck.

Hoppin' John
(Click here for GREENS recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup raw cow (field) peas
4 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup raw rice
4 slices bacon fried with:
1 medium onion

INSTRUCTIONS:

Boil peas in salted water until tender. Add peas and 1 cup of the pea liquid to rice, bacon (with grease) and onion. Put in a rice steamer or double-boiler and cook for one hour or until rice is thoroughly done. (Servings: 8.)

SOURCE: Mary Royall Barnwell’s recipe in Charleston Receipts, collected by the Junior League of Charleston (1950).

Serve with:


Mixed Greens

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds collard greens
2 pounds mustard greens
2 pounds kale
1/2 pound salt pork
1/2
pound smoked neck bones
1/2 pound rib tips
Salt and pepper
Dash of sugar (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Wash meats and put in a large pot and cook for 45 minutes. Cover with water. Clean greens well. Cut up and combine with meat. Season to taste. Put a dash of sugar if desired. Cook over medium heat for 50 to 60 minutes or until tender.

SOURCE: Allen Jennette’s recipe in Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook (1978).

ADDITIONAL SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Some people prefer a jot of vinegar over the cooked greens.

Collard Greens

INGREDIENTS:

A mess of fresh collard greens
Enough water to cover in a pot
Equal parts sugar and salt, to taste
Hamhock, thick bacon or fatback, as preferred

INSTRUCTIONS:

Wash and rinse the greens thoroughly to remove grit. Put in a large pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about an hour (test them for "doneness" from time to time".)

SOURCE: Grace M. Cordial's (our South Carolina Resources Librarian) recipe (2001).


Okra Soup

INGREDIENTS:

1 soup bone
1 1/2 pounds stew beef
1 large can of tomatoes
1 cup butter beans (or green limas)
3 cups sliced okra (fresh)
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 quarts water (about)
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Boil soup bone and beef for two hours. Add other ingredients and boil for an hour or so. This soup may be served over a spoonful of rice placed in a soup bowl, and is a meal in itself.

SOURCE: The Beaufort Cookbook: A Treasury of Carolina Recipes (1965), collected by Dee Hryharrow and Isabel M. Hoogenboom.


Oyster Dressing

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup butter or margarine
12 cups cubed day-old bread
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups celery
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pint oysters, chopped and drained
Milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a frypan, sauté onions and celery in butter over medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine onions, celery, bread, eggs, salt and oysters. To moisten dressing use part oyster juice and part milk.

SOURCE: Juanita Singleton’s recipe in Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook (1978).


Red Rice

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups rice
1 can (16 oz.) tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 smoked sausage, chopped small or diced
4 slices bacon
Salt and Pepper to taste
A dash of sugar
A dash or two powdered Seafood seasoning (optional), to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a pan, fry the bacon until brown (keep the bacon fat). Fry chopped onion in bacon fat until transparent (frying the uncooked rice along with the bacon will add a nice flavor). Add all other ingredients, bringing mixture to a boil. You may add the optional sea food seasoning powder at this point, or sprinkle it "dry" over the rice as a garnish after cooking. Reduce heat to simmer (lowest stove heat) and cook for 20 minutes until rice is done (in true Lowcountry fashion, do not stir or otherwise disturb the rice during cooking).

ADDITIONAL SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Red rice is delicious with shrimp or fried chicken. Some cooks add a pinch or two of powdered seafood seasoning to the recipe, either during cooking or afterwards as a garnish. Some recipes include chopped green (bell) pepper (cook along with the onion).

Also, you may wish to add just a little more rice before cooking for a drier quality that some Lowcountry residents prefer in their red rice.

SOURCE: Recipe contributed by Library staff member Dennis Adams (1998).


Stewed Crabs
(A Recipe from 1847)

Take three or four crabs, pick the meat out of the body and claws; take care that no spongy part be left among it, or any of the shell. Put this meat into a stew-pan, with a little white wine, some pepper and salt and a little nutmeg. Heat all this together, and then put in some crumbs of bread, the yolks of two eggs break up, and one spoonful of vinegar; stir all well together; make some toasted snippets, lay them on a plate, and pour in the crabs. Send it up hot.

SOURCE: The Carolina Housewife (1847) by Sarah Rutledge.


Sweet Potato Pie

INGREDIENTS:

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes 2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 sticks butter Dash of cinnamon
3 cups sugar Dash of nutmeg
4 eggs 1/2 can evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla  


INSTRUCTIONS:

Cook potatoes until done in boiling water. Peel while hot and slice butter over them. Mash and beat with rotary beaters at high speed in a deep bowl. When smooth, rinse beaters and continue beating at high speed, adding sugar gradually. When dissolved, add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat a few more minutes. Stir in milk gently. Pour mixture into 2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until firm in center.

SOURCE: Jessie Mae Jenkins’s recipe in Penn School & Sea Islands Heritage Cookbook (1978).


Sweet Potato Pone

INGREDIENTS:

2 large sweet potatoes 2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons margarine, melted 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark cane sugar  


INSTRUCTIONS:

Peel and grate sweet potatoes. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into greased baking dish and cook in slow oven at 300 degrees F until done, about 1 hour.

SOURCE: Catherine Carr's (of lady's Island) recipe in The Legacy of Ibo Landing: Gullah Roots of African American Culture, edited by Marquetta L. Goodwine (1998).

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