Frogmore stew was born in St. Helena Island in a small Lowcountry fishing community near Hilton Head and Beaufort, South Carolina. This tasty stew is sometimes referred to as a Lowcountry boil.
The Lowcountry is also known as the home of the Gullah people. West Africans were enslaved to work the rice plantations in the Sea Islands, including Edisto Island.
In Africa, they used unique techniques to grow rice and were specifically chosen to be enslaved for their superior skills in rice farming. They arrived in America in the 1700s, where they lived and worked the plantations on the Sea Islands isolated from the mainland.
Their slave living quarters usually only had one pot for cooking all their meals. Since the Gullah people were isolated from the mainland, they were not influenced by American culture and got to hold on to their African traditions.
Today, the Gullah culture is seen throughout Edisto Island and the surrounding areas through food, vibrant artwork, sweetgrass baskets, music, and more.
Their recipes are a staple in Southern Cuisine and include Frogmore stew, Gullah sweet potatoes, shrimp and grits, sautéed shrimp and okra, peaches and cream pie, Gullah rice, fried corn cakes, and lots more.
If you love Southern food, you are going to enjoy this Gullah recipe! Let’s get started cooking.
Here’s what you need:
- 2 pounds of red potatoes
- 6 quarts of water
- 12 ears of corn that are cleaned husked, and quartered
- 4 pounds of unpeeled large fresh shrimp
- 2 pounds of hot smoked sausage links (cut them into 2” inch pieces)
- ¾ cup of Old Bay Seasoning
Now let’s put all these ingredients to work:
- Use a large stockpot, add the water and Old Bay seasoning, and bring it to a boil.
- Add the potatoes to the pot and allow it to cook for 15 minutes.
- Add the sausage to the pot and allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the shrimp into the pot and allow them to cook for 5 minutes or until pink.
- Drain excess water and serve.
Frogmore stew takes about 30 minutes to cook on a standard stovetop and serves up to 12 people. You can adjust the recipe to serve fewer or more people.
However, the first time you cook this stew, it’s recommended to follow the recipe precisely to ensure you have the full Gullah Frogmore stew flavors and experience.
This is an excellent stew that provides protein and lots of nutrition. It cooks quickly and feeds a lot of people. It’s great to cook for potlucks, holidays, or any event where you need to feed many people. This stew will surely get a lot of attention.
As you probably noticed in the recipe, the shrimp shells are left on during the cooking process. This technique adds flavor to the shrimp as well as the entire stew. Make sure you remove the shells while eating. It’s best to arrange the bowl of stew so the shrimp is on top to make certain people see they need to remove the shell of the shrimp.
If you are serving a large crowd and won’t warn everyone about the shrimp shells, it’s best to peel the shrimp before the cooking process. This will prevent anyone from choking.
A sweet and interesting ingredient in this stew is the corn on the cob. Corn was introduced to the Gullah people by the Native Americans. The Natives would trade corn for other items with the plantation owners. Sometimes the plantation owners would give grits to the Gullah people as part of their food allowance.
Once the Gullah people had access to corn, they found ways to incorporate it into their recipes, such as Frogmore stew and fried corn cakes. This sweet tasty, and vibrant colored ingredient provides flavor and nutrition to popular Southern dishes created by the Gullah people.
As a visitor to Edisto Island, you will be immersed in the Gullah culture once you learn what to look for and where to go. There are art galleries and studios that are home to beautiful vibrant colored artwork that paints a vision of what life was like on the plantation and meaningful moments captured between people.
You will also indulge in delectable Gullah dishes at restaurants. Most eateries keep popular Gullah recipes on their menu all year long but sometimes don’t mention the Gullah people. You will know you are eating a Gullah recipe when you see their popular dishes, as mentioned earlier on the restaurant menu.
It’s highly recommended to visit as many restaurants on Edisto Island as possible to ensure you hit all the hot spots with the best Gullah food. As you tour the town, you will come across sweetgrass baskets as well. The Gullah people used these beautiful and unique handmade baskets to gather rice, potatoes, and vegetables from the fields and used them for many other reasons.
The traditional way to create these baskets is passed down from generation to generation. So, if you are the lucky one who buys a few of these baskets, you can feel confident it was made with authentic skills taught by the Gullah people to their descendants today.
These baskets hold a lot of history and are a great keepsake of your trip. They look great displayed in the house as well as continue to be helpful. You can be sure the Gullah people used these types of baskets daily as they worked the plantation. This means the ingredients you put in this stew were most likely carried in these baskets back in the day.
Frogmore Stew can be found on the menu of many restaurants throughout Edisto Island. Make sure you give it a try during your visit. Don’t forget; you can also serve this fantastic stew any time you want at home! So get started cooking now and bring Gullah culture into your home today!