Beach Vacation: Shrimp boil and skillet cornbread

One of my favorite vacation destinations is North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I’ve only been there twice, but every time it’s a week of heaven–swimming, reading, shopping at my favorite Independent bookstore, and eating amazing food.

Sadly, I live in Ohio, and I can’t get to the Outer Banks whenever I want.  So I love to cook this meal, taken from Elizabeth Wiegand’s Outer Banks Cookbook, when I need an OBX taste in my kitchen.

These are two recipes: first, for the shrimp boil, and then the cornbread, because who doesn’t love a good cornbread, right?

Shrimp And Beer Shrimp Boil

adapted from Elizabeth Wiegand’s Outer Banks Cookbook

2 lbs. shrimp, preferrably unpeeled (but sometimes you can only find it in the “peeled” state. That’s OK.)

1 12 oz beer, any kind, as long as it’s not lite beer

1 c. water

1 medium onion, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

4 garlic cloves, slivered

1 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning (my favorite is Williams-Sonoma Old Bay. At the grocery you will find this in the seafood department, not with the spices.)

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. whole black or mixed color peppercorns

1 c. prepared cocktail sauce


Rinse the shrimp and set aside to drain.

In a large pot or Dutch Oven, add beer and all other ingredients. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and allow to bubble for two minutes, reducing heat as necessary to keep from boiling over.

Make sure the beer mixture is at a raucous boil, then add the shrimp. Stir often, and cook just until the mixture returns to a boil and the shrimp turns pink. Drain.

Serve in a large bowl with an extra bowl for discarded shrimp shells and a small bowl of cocktail sauce (And LOTS of paper towels!)


Traditional Skillet Cornbread

from Elizabeth Wiegand’s Outer Banks Cookbook 

You will need a 9 inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, for this recipe!

1 tbsp. corn oil (or other oil)

2 c. cornmeal

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt (regular iodized, not kosher or sea salt)

2 eggs

1 1/4 c. milks

1 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Add oil to coat a 9 inch ovenproof skillet, and place skillet in the oven while mixing the cornbread.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Break eggs into a small mixing bowl and beat until yolks and whites are mixed. Add milk and stir, then add melted butter and stir to combine.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring after each addition. Mix until well blended.

Pour the batter into the skillet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cut into wedges to serve.



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