The following post is based on a web page written by Dennis Adams (Information Services Coordinator, Retired) for the old Beaufort County Library website at various points between 1998 and 2007. Created: 20 December 2017 – Grace Cordial
Frogmore Stew (also known as “Lowcountry Boil,” “Lowcountry Stew” or “Beaufort Boil”)
Watch and listen as Dennis Adams tells you about the history of Frogmore Stew in a Beaufort County Moment.
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).
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.
Simple Frogmore Stew Recipe for 3 – 4 People
Here is Dennis Adams’ simple Frogmore Stew Recipe for 3-4 people:
- 2-3 long links smoked beef sausage
- 3-4 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)
- 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 colander 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.
Big Frogmore Stew Recipe for 30 People:
Here is a Frogmore Stew recipe, based on the South Carolina Wildlife Cookbook version accredited to Ed McTeer of Port Royal, which serves 30 people.
- 10 pounds smoked beef sausage in long links
- 3 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)
- 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.
Frogmore Stew, Serves 8
The following recipe serving 8 people is credited to Matthew Hughes in 1993.
- 3 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
- 3 tablespoons Salt
- 1 1/2 gallons water
- 2 lbs. Kielbasa or smoked sausage
- 12 ears shucked corn broken into 3 – 4 inch pieces
- 4 lbs. shrimp in shells
- In a large stock pot, add the seasoning to the water and bring to a boil.
- Add sausage and boil, uncovered, for five minutes.
- Add corn ears and count five minutes. (Begin counting immediately. Do not wait until the water is boiling.
- Add shrimp and count three minutes.
- Drain immediately.
The Carolina Housewife: A facsimile of the 1847 edition, with an introduction and a preliminary checklist of South Carolina cookbooks published before 1935 by Anna Wells Rutledge. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1979.
DocSlide website, Posted on 6 November 2015 with notes “From: Matthew Hughes Date: Fri, 29 Oct 1993 12:53:33 -0400” https://docslide.com.br/documents/frogmore-stew-french-beans-stew.html Accessed 20 December 2017
The South Carolina Wildlife Cookbook: A Collection of Recipes for Sea and Freshwater Food, Large and Small Game, and Savory Oddities from the Wild by Julie Lumpkin and Nancy Ann Coleman. Columbia: South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, 1981;
Telephone interviews, 1991: Dennis Adams with Emory Campbell; Dennis Adams with Agnes Sherman; and, Dennis Adams with Richard Gay.
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Please contact the Beaufort District Collection at (843) 255-6468 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information about local history and archives relating to the people, places, and themes of the history, culture, and natural environment of Beaufort County, Jasper County, and Hampton County, South Carolina.