Fill a huge stockpot, preferably fitted with a basket insert, with about 4 quarts of water. Keep in mind that when you add the solid ingredients the water level will rise, so don't fill the pot up more than halfway. Squeeze the lemons
into the water, tossing in the halves too. Add the bay leaves, salt, seasoning, thyme
, chiles and garlic
; bring the broth
to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer
for 10 minutes. You want a very aromatic
broth with plenty of salt and spices
. Taste it; don't be afraid to make it strong so some of the flavor can penetrate and get absorbed by the potatoes and other ingredients. Adjust seasoning with salt.
Add the potatoes to the pot to give them a head start; simmer for 20 minutes. Now add the corn and sausage; cook another 5 minutes, making sure everything stays covered with the liquid. Add the clams and boil for 8 to 10 minutes until they open. Then toss in the shrimp and shut off the heat. Cover the pot and let the shrimp steep in the flavor for 15 minutes. Drain and spread the shrimp, sausage, clams, corn, potatoes, and onions out on a newspaper-covered table. Serve with lemons and plenty of napkins. Reserve the broth to make Shrimp Cocktail Shots.