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Frogmore Stew: A Seafood ‘Caldo’ to Warm Your Heart


ELMENDORF — On a cool morning in November, with a light haze of rain in the air, Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard set the stage for its first-ever Celebrate the Harvest, Share the Bounty.

It was not the best weather one might have asked for such a festive event. Nevertheless, many braved the elements, headed down to the olive ranch and enjoyed its first — of which should be many to come — harvest celebration.

Sandy Oaks Frogmore Stew croppedPeople crowded into the olive oil seminars, went on tours, sampled a lunch buffet at the Kitchen at Sandy Oaks and tasted the high-quality olio nuovo  produced at the ranch this season. Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard is one of the pioneering olive-growing ranches in the state.

Chimeneas burned brightly against the misty green backdrop of the orchard and olive tree nursery and beckoned to passersby, tempting them to warm their hands at the fire.

But, another warming event at the celebration also lured a steady stream of customers — the Frogmore Stew station.

Here, under a canopy, Sandy Oaks cook Maria Mendoza chopped red potatoes, sliced corn into short cobs and added shrimp to a steaming, large pot of savory seafood broth. The stew was fragrant, perfectly seasoned and a new experience to most, thanks to a recipe from Sandy Oaks’ Chef Chris Cook. Mendoza prepared several potfuls of Frogmore Stew that day.

Frogmore Stew’s origins, according to John Mariani’s “Dictionary of American Food and Drink” is Southern — and it’s “sometimes called Buford stew, possibly after Buford, Georgia.” He says the Southern dish (in some references it’s said to be Low Country) that’s similar to a New England clambake or Maryland crab boil.

There are no frogs in Frogmore Stew. But, there were plenty of pink, steamy shrimp to flavor the stew, which also contains sausage, potato and onion — and, according to the “Dictionary,” it can be served with red beans and rice.

Coming Up: Visit Sandy Oaks’ website here. There’s a Champagne Tasting this Saturday, Dec. 6; an 11 a.m. tour every Saturday and a Garden Brunch in the Kitchen at Sandy Oaks every Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

Sandy Oaks Chimanea croppedFrogmore Stew

1 yellow onion
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 large ribs celery
2 large cloves garlic
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped, along with some of the leaves
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch fresh thyme (bundle, tied with string)
1 6-inch long sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
6 black peppercorns, roughly chopped
4 quarts chicken stock
4 quarts seafood stock (or, use more chicken broth but add a couple of bottles of clam juice, if desired)
Sea salt, to taste
2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
6-8 cobs corn, cut into 2-inch pieces cobbettes.
2 pounds gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds andouille sausage, sliced
1 pound chorizo sausage, sliced

Sweat onions, carrots, celery, garlic, fennel, tomatoes until softened. Deglaze with white wine and reduce (let most of the wine cook off.)  Add stocks, bay leaves, herbs, Old Bay Seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes. Season stock with sea salt. Add the potatoes and sausage and cook until the potatoes are almost tender. Put in shrimp and let cook a few minutes until pink and firm, before serving.  Take out the bay leaf, sprig of rosemary and bunch of thyme stems before serving. Taste for salt and, if you like, add more Old Bay Seasoning.

Serves a crowd.

From Chris Cook, executive chef at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard

 

Sandy Oaks 2014 Olio Nuovo cropped   Photographs by Bonnie Walker

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