Southern Comfort: the taste of the USA’s deep South

Celebrate the food culture of America’s Deep South with this authentic recipe from Louisiana, courtesy of Southern food pop-up restaurant, Soul Shack.

In a sip: The flavours of the Deep South are big, bold and spicy, so match with a beer that has the body to compete. Beer Buyer Freddy Bulmer recommends Northern Monk's Heathen IPA: 'This would work really well because it has a full body but with freshness and spice to match the food. It won't be overpowered because it's full-flavoured; important in food which has so many different spices in it.'


Leafy Hertfordshire may not have much in common with the sub-tropical heat and salt water swamps of Louisiana, but it's just here that southern US native Rachel Russel and Chef Amy Hopkins set up Soul Shack, a pop-up Southern food restaurant that dishes up classic American grub to hordes of festival-goers and connoisseurs alike. Here Rachel gives us an exclusive recipe, best enjoyed in the garden with family and friends to make the most of late summer sunshine.

Soul Shack Ladies

'This recipe is iconic in South Carolina, specifically in the Low Country where I am from. The dish really reflects the South's dependence on the coastal living because traditionally fish and seafood were available to people across every social-economic group.

To me, the Low Country Boil is what family picnics are made of, traditionally served straight out of the boiler onto newspaper lined tables so that the corn cobs and shrimp shells can just be rolled up in the newspaper afterwards. The dish is so simple and really brings to life the community spirit of the Low Country; it reminds me of long sunny days, and the smiles of family and friends - the embodiment of Southern hospitality. My daddy has a shrimp boiler which he uses to make this dish, but I've known folks to use a turkey fryer, or just use a very large pot.'

Low Country Boil

Serves at least 8 people

You will need: a 12 qt (around 12 litre) covered stock pot and a muslin sachet (or you could make one)

Low Country Boil

For the spice mix:

  • 4 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice
  • 2 tablespoons dill seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 bay leaves

Crush all slightly and place in a muslin sachet.

For the Low Country Boil

  • 1 bottle pale ale
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 3 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 2 lbs mild or hot smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 6 ears fresh corn on the cob, cut in half
  • 2lbs unpeeled large raw large shrimp
  • 2lbs fresh crawfish (crayfish)

Bring five quarts (around five litres) of water to boil in a stock pot with the muslin sachet, lemon, beer, and salt. Once water is on a rolling boil and coloured from the spices, reduce the heat to medium. Add the potatoes and sausage, cover and cook for ten minutes, then add the corn and cook five minutes. Add your shrimp and crawfish, cover and cook for two minutes before removing from the heat. Let stand, covered for 10 minutes before draining.

Serve with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce and hot sauce (one like Louisiana/Tabasco/Franks)

Cocktail Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish or puree
  • ½ teaspoon ginger puree
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • One drop of Worcestershire sauce

Mix well.

Tartar Sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of minced gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon minced capers
  • ½ small shallot minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat leaf parsley

Mix well.

'Soul Shack is the brain child of Miss Amy (Hopkins) and Miss Rachel (Russell). We are two strong women who love food and care about our community. We wanted to bring something new to the area and Miss Rachel has a long history of Southern Hospitality (Southerners famously express their love through food). Miss Amy has a long history of providing folks with great food and her cooking is well-loved locally: a winning combination. We are Hertfordshire-based and available for private hire, events, and pop ups.'

Visit Soul Shack >

August 2017

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