This Labor Day I spent the weekend with friends at their beach house on Dauphin Island in Alabama. On the menu were smoked ribs, seafood gumbo, boiled crabs and some excellent pimento cheese spread courtesy of our hostess Amanda. Their house is flanked by a bird sanctuary and fronts the beach, a location that easily captures a laid-back vibe. The scene was completed by views from the deck, from where we could see the white gallon jugs tethered to our crab traps bobbing in the surf.
It was a totally food-centric weekend, reinforced by rainy weather that redirected our energies into the kitchen. The rain didn’t keep us from setting our crab traps, but it did keep us from fishing, as my friend Teddy pointed out it would not be a good idea to be waving an 8-foot surf rod around in a thunderstorm.
Our seafood menu was buttressed with trips to nearby Skinner’s Seafood, a family-owned and -operated seafood store that sells the catch from their shrimp boat, augmented by line-caught finfish such as grouper, redfish and flounder. A bonus of Skinner’s is that they will steam your shrimp to order in a seasoning mix redolent of Old Bay, which makes for a breezy change of pace from the default Zatarain’s-style crab boil. We bought a few pounds of their most gigantic shrimp, had them steamed and served them back at the house alongside the blue crabs we caught in our traps. We rationalized the jumbos by saying the fewer of those we had to peel, the more energy we could direct to cracking down the blues, which takes considerably more effort.
On the way out of town, we stopped again at Skinner’s, where they packed our mini-Igloo full of ice and fresh redfish filets. Back in New Orleans, I blackened the redfish and finished it in the oven with some Marquis Butter. I got the recipe from Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood Cookbook, though I rounded out the compound butter with sherry in lieu of white wine and added fresh tarragon, thyme and oregano from our garden. All in all, it was the perfect post-beach meal to taper off from a weekend of eating and relaxing.
1012 Bienville Blvd.
Dauphin Island, AL 36528