Your Slow Cooker Is The Secret To A Way Easier Seafood Boil

Seafood boil on newspaper
Seafood boil on newspaper - Rick Diamond/Getty Images

If you own a slow cooker, it's probably already seen a lot of chili, soup, and pot roast. But, braised meats and stews aren't the only thing the handy appliance can pull off. A slow cooker can also handle unexpected foods like oatmeal, bread, and baked potatoes. In fact, one of the easiest meals to make in a slow cooker is a hassle-free seafood boil.

When you think about it, all a slow cooker really does is slowly heat up a porcelain crock pot over time, and you can use this gradual heat to your advantage to cook all the goodies that go into a seafood boil, like potatoes, corn on the cob, sausage, and of course your choice of shrimp, lobster, crabs, clams, and mussels.

Whether you're trying to keep the heat down in your kitchen in the summer, or you just want an easy and fun weeknight meal any time of the year, a slow cooker is the secret to getting a seafood boil on the table with almost no muss or fuss. Just be sure it's big enough to hold all your ingredients, and add everything in stages so that the food doesn't get overcooked. And of course make sure to have plenty of butter and lemons on hand when it's ready to serve.

Read more: The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Can Buy

Cook The Veggies First

Person with a slow cooker
Person with a slow cooker - Empphotography/Getty Images

A traditional seafood boil usually involves an outdoor burner and a big stock pot, but you can pull off a scaled-down boil in your kitchen with your trusty slow cooker. It's important, however, to use a larger model cooker, at least 6 or 7 quarts, so that you can fit everything inside at the same time. You can use pretty much any seafood boil recipe in your slow cooker, but the trick is to layer the ingredients in the pot and add them at different times. When you first turn on your machine, put the potatoes down first, then the corn and sausage. After that, add the cooking liquid just to cover the food, and dump in any spices like Old Bay. Also, it's a good idea to break or cut your corn cobs in half so that they all fit into the pot.

All of the ingredients in a seafood boil, except for the shellfish itself, can slowly stew in your slow cooker for hours, you just have to let it work its magic. Shellfish, however, cooks very quickly, especially shrimp, and it's easy to overdo it and end up with rubbery results. For that reason, only add the protein to the boil during the last 15 to 20 minutes of the process. Get everything else ready in the kitchen first, like setting the table and melting some drawn butter, before you dump your shrimp, clams, and lobster into the slow cooker.

Add The Seafood

Shrimp, potatoes, crab legs, and corn
Shrimp, potatoes, crab legs, and corn - Robert Och/Getty Images

A slow cooker seafood boil is incredibly simple to pull off, but there are also a few drawbacks to watch out for. During a regular outdoor seafood boil, everything is cooked in about an hour from start to finish because you're working with a pot of liquid that's brought to a full, rolling boil. A slow cooker, on the other hand, only gets up to about simmering temperature, so the food will take a lot longer to cook. If you're planning a seafood boil with a slow cooker, you'll need to start the vegetables a couple of hours before it's time to eat. And while you can set it and forget it to a certain extent, you should still check the pot from time to time to make sure you're not over or under cooking anything.

Slow cookers are also limited by their space, so if you're planning a seafood boil for more than five or six people, an outdoor seafood boil using a traditional stock pot is better. Slow cooker seafood boils, on the other hand, are perfect for weeknights with the family. With just a little bit of prep, you can be peeling and eating shrimp and crunching corn on the cob any night of the week.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.