Normally in the Summer down here in Southern Oregon I am hitting the grill hard. However, it’s so hot and smokey right now that I feel like we’re living in a Traeger and it’s simply not ideal spending any time at all outdoors.
Dutch Oven Meets Cajun Classic
Given the weather, I wanted a dish I could cook inside. Inspired by an upcoming trip camping in the redwoods of coastal Northern California, I thought about classic campfire dutch oven recipes. But I also have been wanting to make a low country boil, that amazing blend of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn boiled in a heavily seasoned brine. Could I combine these two dishes? I had to try!
We’re Skipping Some Classic Ingredients for Our Low Country Dutch Oven
First thing’s first: I did not get shrimp. It may seem like a key ingredient in a low country boil, but half my family doesn’t like it. I don’t blame them. We grew up in the South and you could get fresh Gulf shrimp, sometimes right from the fisherman’s cooler; with heads, whiskers, and a little extra brine. The flash frozen prawns or farmed shrimp we get at the local grocery stores here have very little flavor. Skip.
I’m also skipping the corn on the cob. My wife has been complaining recently about our corn intake, mainly because we have not been eating it grilled and slathered in butter. If you’ve not had a low country boil then you won’t know that the ears of corn in the boil soak up all the flavor and spice and are among my favorite parts. Would the broccoli florets do the same? Probably not, so if you can toss in a few 1/4 ears of corn you’ll be happier for it.
For meat, I bought some uncured thick cut bacon (this is my attempt to get my daughter to eat this dish) and chose a low-fat turkey andouille sausage. After eating it with the andouille, we all found we prefer polska kielbasa sausage instead for this dish. You decide what you like best.
For vegetables I chose red new potatoes, some purple onion I had leftover, a small head of cabbage, and, in lieu of the corn, broccoli.
What Makes This “Low Country”?
The secret of a truly great low country boil is the boil itself. The rest of the ingredients are what they are. But the boil is where things get personal. The best cajun boils have so much spice in them turn a caramel color. That’s the kind of flavor we need.
I’ve used Zatarain’s crab boil by whole life (ocassionally I go the Old Bay route if I can’t find Zatarains). My thinking was that as the concoction cooked in the dutch oven that the cabbage and other veggies would release a lot of moisture, which would travel through the bag and into the potatoes at the bottom of the pot. It did that, albeit it did not transfer as much flavor as I had hoped. I could have boiled the bag in a little water or broth and then added that to the dutch oven but I also wanted to see if the potatoes at the bottom would caramelize and add more texture to the dish. Next time I’ll use a simple shake version of the same spices and season it liberally with it (I adjusted the recipe with this change).
Keep the Flavor in the Pot
You’ll notice in this recipe that I’m trying to build a little flavor in the pot instead of just dropping all the ingredients in it and popping it in the fire (or the oven). I cooked the bacon first, reserving some bacon fat in the pan, then browning the sausage and deglazing the pot while cooking the onions with the browning sausage. This keeps any burned bits of goodness in the pot or stuck to the onions so the flavors stay there.
Once the meat and onions were cooked, I removed them to a plate and started layering the potatoes at the bottom and along the lower sides. The idea is that the potatoes touching the side of the dutch oven will brown and caramelize and take on some crunchy texture.
Then I added the seasoning, and alternating layers of veggies and meat and onions until the pot was completely full to the top.
The Final Verdict for Dutch Oven Low Country Boil
The bottom line is we are going to make this again and again. It was relatively easy, flavorful, nutritious, and makes great leftovers. However, next time I make this I’m going to make three changes, all of which I put in the recipe below.
First, I will use about 1/4-cup of Zatarain’s seasoning instead of the crab boil bag. This will distribute the seasoning throughout the pot and amp up the flavor.
Second, instead of andouille, I’m going to use polska kielbasa sausage. The crew wanted more seasoning in the pot and less on the sausage!
Finally, instead of cooking this at 350 degrees for 75 minutes, I’m going to use 400 for an hour. The goal will be to get a little more color and crunch on the potatoes.
If you make, let me know how it turned out!
Dutch Oven Low Country Potatoes, Bacon, Sausage, and Cabbage
- Cast iron dutch oven or large skillet
- Cutting Board
- Paper Towels (For drying the bacon)
- 8 slices Thick cut bacon I used uncured bacon
- 13oz pkg Polska kielbasa sausage, ½-inch slices You also could use andouille or even a good smoked sausage.
- 4 large New Potatoes, ¼-inch sliced
- 1 med Onion, ¼-inch sliced I used a leftover purple onion
- 1 cup Baby carrots, cut in half
- 1 small Head of cabbage, rough chopped or ½-inch slices
- 2 cups Broccoli florets Optional
- ¼ cup Zatarain's Crab Boil Yep, that's what we're using - trust me!
- Slice potatoes in ¼ slices and set aside
- Slice onions in ¼ slices and set aside
- Slice andouille sausage and set aside
- Half baby carrots and add to broccoli florets and to ½-inch sliced cabbage
Cook Bacon and Brown Sausage
- Add bacon slices to bottom of dutch oven and place on medium heat stove top or camp fire. Cook until crispy, about 5 minutes each side. Set aside and chop when cool.
- Leave about 2 tbsp of bacon fat in pan, reserve 2 tbsp and drain the rest.
- Add sliced andouille to the pan and brown about 4 minutes.
- Add sliced onions to andouille and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Remove dutch oven from heat and remove sausage and onions from it.
Layer in Dutch Oven
- Add remaining 2 tbsp of bacon fat and layer potato slices in the bottom of the dutch oven.
- Place the bag of Zatarain's crab boil in the middle of the dutch oven on top of the potatoes.
- Add carrots, broccoli and cabbage to the dutch oven, covering the spice bag.
- Add the chopped bacon and sausage and onions on top.
Cook and Serve
- Cover and cook on medium low cook top, 350° oven, or in coals of camp fire for about 45 minutes, or until potatoes are done.
- Once done, use tongs or fork to remove Zatarain's bag and discard. Stir ingredients to combine and serve hot!