Talking Georgia coast seafood with a sixth-generation Gullah Geechee farmer

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Chef Matthew Raiford adds Wainwright’s smoked sausage and blue crabs to his lowcountry boil. Photo by Siobhàn Egan.

Growing up on fileted snapper and a red eye gravy with shrimp made by his grandmother, Matthew Raiford describes himself as a “chefarmer.” After traveling the world, he returned to the Georgia coast, where he is a sixth-generation farmer and seafood is the staple of the region. Raiford discusses fish for breakfast, shrimpers in the marshland, and why he puts sausage and crab in his lowcountry boil. His cook book is “Bress ‘N’ Nyam” — a Gullah phrase meaning “Eat and be satisfied.”

Gilliard Farms Lowcountry Boil
Serves 6 to 8

One of the pleasures of summer is gathering with family and friends for what we’ve always called a crab boil. Most folks, though, call it a Lowcountry boil, and farther north in the Carolinas, it’s called Frogmore stew. My favorite way to make it is over an outdoor cooker in a large stockpot with a pull-​out colander—​that way you can pour out all the goodness onto a newspaper-​lined picnic table and everybody can just reach in for a bite. I place little pots of homemade Cocktail Sauce (recipe follows), drawn butter, and lemon wedges all around so guests have easy access for dipping and squeezing.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 gallons cold water
  • 2 pints beer
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 pounds new potatoes, halved
  • 3 pounds Wainright’s smoked sausage, cut into 1-​inch pieces
  • 1 pound pearl onions
  • 8 ears fresh corn, shucked, silks removed, and cut into thirds
  • 5 pounds whole live blue crabs
  • 5 pounds Wild Georgia shrimp

Instructions  

-Fill a 24-​quart steamer pot and punched basket about three-​quarters full of water and place over medium-​high heat.
-Add the beer, Old Bay, and crushed red pepper, then bring the seasoned water to a boil.
-Add the potatoes, sausage, and onions and cook for 10 minutes.
-Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes. Then add the blue crabs and cook for 5 more minutes.
-Add the shrimp and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the crabs have turned bright red and the shrimp have curled and blushed pink.
-Pull the punched basket out of the pot and let the water drain, then pour the boil over a newspaper-​lined table or serve on several large platters.

Cocktail Sauce
Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Smokin’ Hot ’n’ Sweet Seasoning (page 77)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

-Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
-Taste and add more garlic, horseradish, or salt to your liking.


Seafood is a staple for breakfast on the Georgia coast, reveals “chefarmer” Matthew Raiford. Photo by Siobhàn Egan.


“I’ve always loved feeding people’s souls. One of the things that grounds us all is food,” says Gullah Geechee chef and farmer Matthew Raiford. His cookbook is “Bress ‘N’ Nyam.” Photo courtesy of The Countrymen Press.

Credits

Host:

Evan Kleiman