The Perfect One-Dish Summer Supper

Company this weekend? Summer is all about casual entertaining, and here (said she modestly) is the perfect summer supper. Crowd-pleasing, minimal prep and cooking time, surf and turf.

Did I have you at hello, or what.

Ladies and gentlemen, all the way from the South Carolina Lowcountry, I give you Frogmore Stew.

Frogmore Stew
Frogmore Stew, with cocktail sauce and melted butter on the side. Photo and stew by Stephanie Valentine

You may be relieved to know that Frogmore Stew is 100% frog-free, and not really a stew. More a boil, as it is known by its other name,  Lowcountry Shrimp Boil. Anyway the “stew” is named after a little town on St. Helena Island, South Carolina, outside Beaufort (pronounced BEWfort, SC, not to be confused with BOWfort, NC). I know this because we have cousins who live on St Helena Island, and you have to go through Frogmore to get their house.

And man is it worth the trip because my cousin and godmother Caroline is a fabulous cook. Here is her recipe for Frogmore Stew. Some include potatoes, but this one doesn’t.   Use large shrimp, and don’t overcook them. Nothing is worse than mushy shrimp.

Caroline Trask's Frogmore Stew
Caroline Trask’s Frogmore Stew – Have it with melted butter and cocktail sauce on the side. Recipe from ”Caroline’s Table,” a wonderful collection of Caroline’s recipes compiled by her children and available by request (I think – let me know if you’re interested).

Because there are messy peels and cobs, spread the table with newspapers and roll it all up when you’re finished.  Well I say easy but that is until the wind kicks up, in which case, cue the masking tape and a few rocks. All will be calm by suppertime.

Picnic at Rancho La Zaca
A picnic table in the vineyard at Rancho La Zaca, set for a casual dinner. Hydrangeas and dahlias in cups, bandanas for napkins (tucked under the plates so they won’t blow away), and a custom Wall Street Journal tablecloth. Easy-peasy.

Serve with a salad and some good French or sourdough bread. For dessert, how about a delicious Lemon Pudding Cake or this ridiculously good Lemon Pie With Saltine Cracker Crust, a good ol’ North Carolina staple I’ve also introduced to our California ranch repertoire. I am slowly corrupting them…

Safe to say Frogmore Stew was a first for Rancho La Zaca and possibly for the Santa Ynez Valley, but I could be wrong about that. His Grace (aka my husband for new readers) loved it.

Bonus labor-saving device: When everyone is finished, have them peel all the remaining shrimp, for shrimp salad the next day.

By way of background, Frogmore, SC, is a wide spot in the road with a tomato packing plant, a general store, and a stop sign. Oh, and an art gallery. It’s also right near the historic Penn School, now the Penn Center, established in 1862 as a school for freed slaves. A century later it was a meeting place for Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. One Penn School student was outsider artist Sam Doyle, whose highly collectible work hangs in museums all over the country.

I thought y’all would be interested in all that. I also learned that St Helena was occupied by the Yankees during just about the entire Civil War. They don’t talk about that much down there.

P.S.  Please do sign up for future posts here. I post about every seventh Tuesday on months ending in q, so you will not be overwhelmed…And oh, follow me on Instagram too!. I post about every seventh Tuesday on months ending in q, so you will not be overwhelmed…


  1. For 24 years, four couples have gone to a cottage at Tilman Beach-guys play golf, girls shop. Dinners include shrimp boil every Friday night and all topics are discussed. Sarah Palin has shown up for dinner with the plumber with Shahs. One year we found a yard sale at local Episcopal Church and a Jackie O white coat and sleeveless dress with spectators joined a one piece mechanics suit.
    Thanks for history over this wonderful recipe.

  2. Grands are coming and out will come the pot for this stew!
    I’d love to get my hands on that cook book, too

  3. Lucky you to have Caroline T. as your godmother! Her cookbook is delightful and filled with good recipes. It brings back memories of fun summers at Nags Head and, going back further, of her parents at the Hatteras Marlin Club.

    Glad you have a breeze at the ranch…it’s hot as Hades here at the beach. (Mother wouldn’t permit me to say the other H word.)
    Annette W

  4. dear frances–you always amaze & delight me— and are by far my favorite blog in the world ( from charleston sc)….love to buy 2 or 3 copies of carolines cookbook!!..just let us know how.

  5. Looks beautiful Frances- more photos on INSTAGRAM please!! Love every event in the vineyard, on the pond and at the shooting range <3<3

  6. Frances, LOVE Frogmore Srew!!
    What a wonderful summer meal!! And I
    am with you on peeling the extras for
    shrimp salad!! My Dad made the BEST
    shrimp salad!! Simple but the best!! I
    would also love to have a copy of
    Caroline’s Table if available!! Keep me
    posted!! Happy summer!!!! Continue to
    enjoy your posts!!

  7. I would LOVE to order a copy of Caroline’s cookbook! I hope her children made lots of extras 🙂 xo

  8. Looks and sounds divine, Frances. For corn, don’t miss out on Shu Takikawa’s at the Farmer’s Market in Solvang on Wednesdays (Saturday and Tuesday in Santa Barbara). It is special, I promise you. His stand says “The Garden Of …..” right next to Noey Turk’s extraordinary baby plants from Yes Yes Nursery. With my corn I just got five Rosa californica, California’s very own native rose, grown from seed gathered along a cool riparian corridor out Midland way. So happy!

  9. Next you’ll be introducing Oyster Roasts to the Valley!!
    We have Frogmore Stew a lot when we have oysrer roasts. It saves the day for those who cannot stomach the oysters!

  10. Frogmore is the best name!! I would love to be named Frogmore. Love all the great tips in your post Frances; the newspaper tablecloth is genius as is the peeled shrimp for the next day. You are the best!!!

  11. I’m fixin to fix a Frogmore stew real soon. I just love your table scapes and great hints for making pretty.

  12. Francis.
    I woke up and read your blog about Frogmoore stew.
    What a hit!!!
    My husband(the one armed bandit). Fell off a nine foot ledge
    In our yard while weeding and broke his hand …took up cooking this summer.
    We are at nags head and invited over all of my childhood beach friends for dinner. John made Gazpacho and then we served Frogmoore stew.
    Low and behold the two childhood summer families from Virginia and Texas knew about Frogmore Stew.
    I do not know if they were being kind but they all loved it.
    My daughter and highschool friend ended the evening with rasberry pie from Garden and Guns.
    Thank you for your inspirational blog!!!

  13. What fun to read this. As a northerner living and loving living in Atl, this dish and your presentation is what meals and renter wining should be… delicious, delightful and with a very low barrier of entry (read: eeeeasy!!). With the farmers markets full of corn, I’ll be making this soon. Wish I’d thought of this when traveling the Forgotten Coast, eating oysters in Apalachicola and buying shrimp in Port St Joe!

  14. Hi Frances
    You DO know I’m Southern (by way of Dublin, London, Vancouver, NY & Santa Barbara)

    “Remaining Shrimp” Ha! That’s like “Remaining Wine”- never happens ’round these parts…

    See you on #Instagram!
    xx SP

  15. Hi Frances,
    You did a great job on the “Lowcountry Boil” as we Savannahians call it. We add new potatoes to our boil, too, to add a bit more carbs when you are afraid that the shrimp won’t go far enough. Be sure to add bowls of drawn butter and “Mo Betta, Mo Hotta” hot sauce to the table. That is by far the fanciest table I have ever seen for a seafood feast! I know your Callie friends are spoiled rotten. Love, Diane

  16. Hi Frances! I made your low country boil for my girlfriends this past weekend and it was a huge success! I did cheat and use kielbasa instead of sausage but the fresh shrimp and corn from the farm made up for it! Thank you for posting this a I hadn’t made a low country boil in over 10 years, just slipped my mind how tasty and easy it was to conjour! Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

    1. Hi Kelly! Kielbasa isn’t cheating! That’s what we use! Glad it was a hit for you. Thanks so much for writing.

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