When we first planned for Christmas Dinner, it was going to be Sherry, Sam, me, and possibly Sam’s housemate Jeff. I had pretty big plans for a variety of non-traditional menu items. The question of whether to expect Jeff wasn’t really an issue; we had plenty either way.

The plan was to serve peel-em-and-eat-em shrimp with the Bayou Boil trimmings (corn on the cob; onions, smoked sausages, and potatoes); Memphis style pulled pork sandwiches; baked beans; Jewish New Pickles (to go on the BBQ); and sausage gumbo with rice.

But then, last minute changes. Not only was Jeff coming for dinner, but two more and possibly four more were coming too! After a momentary panic, I realized we had enough to make it work. I had an extra pound of shrimp to add to the two I already planned to cook; plus I had some Italian sausages in the freezer that would work nicely to stretch the meal.

I had already smoked the pork made the Jewish New Pickles, and baked beans from scratch two days earlier. That was a LOT of cooking already taken care of; I just had to figure out how to rewarm and serve on time.

To keep things more manageable, I decided to use my everyday 6-quart stock pan for the boil, rather than bringing in the big 5 gallon pot from storage.

I thawed my three pounds of shrimp in that 6-quart stock pot under a slowly running cold water tap. Once the shrimp were thawed, I poured off the excess water, retaining enough to sufficiently cover the shrimp while cooking. I removed the shrimp to the fridge for holding; and then seasoned the water in the pot with Old Bay, bay leaves, lemon slices, and a few cloves of garlic. I got that pot going on the stove gently an hour before dinner time. I rinsed my three pounds of boiling potatoes which were packaged in a cookable net bag. I sliced my smoked sausages into serving sized pieces and set aside.