French Shrimp Boil

Time40 minutes
YieldsServes 6 to 8
Shrimp, potatoes and artichokes on a table lined with newsprint
Shrimp, potatoes and artichokes simmer together in a flavorful broth of spices and wine in this French take on a seafood boil.
(Joann Pai / Chronicle Books)
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“When I was younger, my mom had one of those little ceramic pots from Williams-Sonoma with ‘Herbes de Provence’ written in script,” Rebekah Peppler says in her cookbook “À Table” (Chronicle Books, 2021). “Ten-year-old me thought it was peak chic. While we rarely used the mix of thyme, basil, savory, fennel and lavender flowers, saving it instead for ‘special’ dishes that were few and far between, twenty years later the exact same pot remains in her spice cabinet, now refreshed with herbs brought back from Provence. I wish we had had this recipe then. A Frenchified take on a low-country boil (or a New England clambake), a French shrimp boil is communal eating at its finest, best piled over newspaper, avec beaucoup d’amis and napkins on hand.”


In a small dish, combine 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and the flaky salt. Reserve this spice mixture.


In a large pot, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika with the potatoes, artichokes, garlic, vinegar, mustard, thyme, bay leaves, fine sea salt and cayenne. Add the water and wine to the pot. Halve one of the lemons, squeeze the juice from both halves into the pot and add the spent halves. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer until the potatoes and artichokes are fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes.


Add the shrimp to the simmering water and cook until the shells are bright red and the meat is slightly opaque and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.


Immediately strain the mixture through a colander, discarding the lemon halves. Spread the shrimp, potatoes and artichokes on platters or a newspaper-lined table. Cut the remaining lemon into wedges. Serve immediately with the reserved spice mixture, lemon wedges, mayonnaise, butter, radishes, and crusty bread.

Turning Artichokes
To turn baby artichokes, pull off the outer leaves then trim the end of the stems and 1 inch (2.5 cm) off the tops. Use a vegetable peeler to shave off the dark layer of the stem. Halve the artichoke lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out and discard the choke. Store in a bowl of cool water mixed with the juice of a lemon until ready to use.

To make homemade mayonnaise, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Whisking constantly, as slowly and gradually as possible — literally drop by drop — add some of ½ cup (120 ml) grapeseed oil until the mixture thickens. Continuing to whisk constantly, start to slowly pour in the remainder of the grapeseed oil and ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Just as slowly, whisk in 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from À Table (Chronicle Books, 2021) by Rebekah Peppler.