A great backyard party, a real Louisiana seafood boil requires a 50-gallon pot on top of a propane burner. This stovetop version turns out a smaller feast, but the flavors are the same. Once you've mastered the basics, as described below, it's time to release your inner Emeril. Exuberant cooks throw extra goodies into the pot to soak up the spicy brew (try sausage links, whole artichokes or mushrooms). Spread out some newspapers and the table is set. Saltines and cocktail sauce are optional. Cold beer is essential. Much of the flavor for a seafood boil comes from an aromatic blend of seasonings known locally as crab boil. If you can't find one of the commercial dry mixes such as Zatarain's or Rex at your grocery store, this recipe is a good substitute: In a bowl, mix together 12 whole cloves, 1/4 cup each coriander seeds and mustard seeds, 3 Tbs. dill seeds, 1 Tbs. each celery seeds and red pepper flakes, 2 Tbs. whole allspice, 2 tsp. black peppercorns and 6 bay leaves, crumbled. Place the mixture on a double-thick square of cheesecloth, gather the corners together and tie securely with kitchen string. Makes enough to season 5 lb. shrimp or 12 blue crabs.
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