Ok. First post in a long time. Don’t screw it up. Gotta be good.
If you’re from the Gulf Coast, you’ve probably had a shrimp boil or a crawfish boil. If you’re from the East Coast, where people like to work more than they like to eat, you’ve probably had a crab boil.
Like a lot of good foods (barbecue, casseroles, soul food, etc.), the Junk Pot was born out of necessity. A need to cook cheap things in a way that makes them taste good. A Junk Pot is the same thing as Low Country (a seafood boil), except you just throw in a bunch of whatever and boil the shit out of it in a bunch of spices.
Junk Pot is what you make when you want a crawfish boil, but they’re out of season or too expensive.
Here’s what’s going in my Junk Pot today:
The main ingredient in a Junk Pot, besides water, is crab boil. I normally prefer the “bag” kind, which is just a bunch of spices that come in a little sachet that you just throw in the pot, but this stuff seems to work out better for big pots. There’s plenty of brands of this stuff too, so it shouldn’t be hard to find in your local market. I’m more familiar with using Zatarain’s, but Cajun Land is good, too.
Putting lemon juice in the boil is a trick I learned from my friend Roy, who makes, in my opinion, the best crawfish in town. I went with the generic brand, because lemon juice is lemon juice, right? “ALWAYS SAVE”. I’ll try to do that, lemon juice.
This is some cut up pineapple, which is a trick I learned from the crawfish boils that they have at the Sea Lab where my wife works. The lemon is sour and the pineapple adds some sweet. The spices are savory, so this all makes for a more complex flavor from your junk pot or crawfish boil. Skip James used to talk about how playing the blues was like doing tricks, and would stab a man if he stole any of his tricks. Well, hopefully I won’t get stabbed for using these tricks.
Those are the ingredients for making the real ingredients taste good.Bring all this stuff to a boil. And don’t worry about having too much crab boil, you can’t add too much. So pour it on in there!
Now. What do we put in our pot of junk?
The first thing I will be putting into my junk pot today is peanuts. Raw ones.
If you’ve never had boiled peanuts, you are missing out on a true Southern delicacy. I got these from a fruit stand near our house, but peanuts are really “in season” in the Fall. That’s when you can find the “Super Jumbo” ones that are the size of a stapler.
Boiled peanuts, being legumes, taste like peas. But field peas that are the most perfect peas you’ve ever had.
The only problem with boiled peanuts is that they take ALL GODDAMN DAY. So I put these on this morning when I got home from work and, by the time I need to put the rest of the stuff in, these will be good to go. And by that time, all that good peanut oil will have leeched out and, in the end, will make a better boil.
The next ingredients I will be adding are these:
That’s right. Cauliflower and broccoli.
Normally, these two items would be red potatoes and corn, but I’ve been trying to eat a little bit healthier these days, being as I’m a fat piece of shit. “Excess and decadence in the Deepest South” may sound like a good idea for a twitter tagline, but in reality it leads to heartbreak and despair.
Anyway. I will be adding these things in a little while because they are tough, and need to be cooked a long time, which makes me think that shrimp are a weird thing to put in a shrimp boil, because they cook so fast. A proper boil should take all day, as you tend it and fuss over it while drinking your ass off, which is what I’ve been doing today.
This also adds meaning to the term “Junk Pot”, because you can just throw any ol’ thing in there.
After these veggies, I’ll be adding:
Any junk pot worth its weight in cayenne pepper includes turkey necks at some point. This is also where the original purpose of junk pots (to cook whatever you had around your house) diverges from modern junk pots. Turkey necks are not expensive, but neither are they cheap. A turkey neck is just as pricey as it needs to be.
But seriously, junk pots were not designed for you to go to the grocery store and spend a hundred bucks on the ingredients.
And if you’ve never had a turkey neck, you are definitely not from the South. But that’s ok, because wherever you are, there’s probably some swanky butcher who underestimates the value of the tasty neck d’turkey and will sell you a sack full of them for next to nothing.
This is some local yokel sausage that I will be putting in later today. I know I said I was trying to eat healthier, but you can’t boil shit around here without throwing in some spicy sausage. Not only is it delicious, but it’ll kill you deader’n shit if you eat too much of it! Now that’s a sales pitch a guy can get behind!
Let’s review: spices. sweet & sour, veggies, meat, peanuts, water.
I’LL BE BACK IN A FEW HOURS TO LET YOU KNOW HOW IT TURNED OUT. COMPLETE WITH PICTURES.
UPDATE. 1511. 10.7.2014
I finally got around to adding the broccoli and cauliflower. I tasted the peanuts, and they’re getting closer to the softness I like. In about 2 hours, I’ll add the meat. Until then, it’s all rum, all the time.
UPDATE: 1644 10.7.2014
I have just added the turkey necks and sausage. Should all be ready to eat in about an hour. I know it looks like a toilet, but it’s gonna taste like… whatever is the opposite of a toilet. A coat room for angel wings.
I’ll update this entry one last time when I pull everything and it’s time to eat!
FINAL UPDATE. 0115 11.7.2014
Apparently all the food I ate, and all the booze I drank put me in a mild coma, from which I have just now awakened.
Here is the final product:
Everything turned out ok, if a little too salty. Now the only problem is to find a place to store all the leftovers. And I’m super thirsty, but too full to drink anything, which is a bad spot to be in.
To be honest, the peanuts are the best part of the whole thing.
Until next time, which may be next year if I continue at this pace….