This recipe is as authentic as he gets and is so fun to make, especially if you serve it “old-fashioned” over newspaper, with rolls of paper towels and lots of hot sauce. The colors are bright and festive, which screams party every time!


  • Filtered water
  • 2 lemons, quartered, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 bunch thyme, tied together
  • 2 Serrano or jalapeño chiles, split in 1/2 lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1 1/2 lbs baby red potatoes
  • 3 ears sweet corn, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 1/2 smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 12-15 littleneck clams, scrubbed, optional
  • 2 pounds jumbo shrimp with tails
  • Hot sauce, for serving


  1. Fill a very large stockpot with about 4 quarts of water. Turn the heat to medium-high. Be sure to leave enough room for the ingredients so the pot doesn’t overflow.
  2. Squeeze the lemons into the water and then toss the peels into the water.
  3. Add the bay leaves, salt, Old Bay seasoning, thyme, chiles, and garlic. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more as necessary. The broth should be strong in order to flavor the potatoes and shellfish.
  4. Add the potatoes to the pot and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the corn and sausage, and cook for another 5 minutes, making sure everything stays covered with the liquid.
  6. Add the clams, if using, and boil for 8-10 minutes until they open.
  7. Toss in the shrimp, stir, turn off the heat, and cover the pot. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to develop its flavor.
  8. Drain and spread the mixture out on to a surface covered in newspaper. Serve with lemons, hot sauce, and a roll of paper towels.