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How to Host the Perfect Clambake

How to Host the Perfect Clambake

Lobster and shrimp and mussels, oh my!

Shutterstock / Michael-John Wolfe

How to Host the Perfect Clambake

Shutterstock / Michael-John Wolfe

Host the perfect summertime clambake in a few simple steps.

Get a Large Roasting Pan — Or Two

Shutterstock / Olga Popova

If you have a large metal roasting pan, feel free to use it, but disposable aluminum roasting pans will work as well. Just make sure the roasting pan — or pans — will fit on your grill.

Prepare Your Grill

Shutterstock / Lukas Gojda

You’ll need two different cooking zones on your grill if you’re planning a clambake — direct heat and indirect heat. If you have a charcoal grill, simply pile all the coals on one side of the grill. If you have a gas grill, leave one burner unlit to create an indirect zone.

Boil the Corn and Potatoes

Shutterstock / Fabio Alcini

Bring a pot of salted water to boil over the high-heat section on your grill. Boil small red potatoes for five minutes, then add halved ears of corn to the pot and boil for three minutes longer. Drain the corn and potatoes and then add them to your roasting pan(s).

Grill Onions and Sausage

When the grill temperature reaches 350 degrees F, grill quartered onions and a few chorizo links over the fire, until charred, about five minutes. Cut the chorizo into large chunks and then add the sausage and onions to the pan along with the corn and potatoes.

Grill Lobster

Shutterstock / Bochkarev Photography

If you’re adding lobster tails to your clambake, grill them now. Simply brush the halved tails with oil, season them with salt and pepper, and then grill them for five minutes (flipping them once, halfway through their cook time) over the fire. Then, add the grilled lobster tails to the pan.

Add Your Remaining Ingredients

Shutterstock / Dulce Rubia

Set the pan over the fire and add white wine. When the wine starts to boil, add clams, mussels, parsley, chives, Old Bay Seasoning, and butter and then cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Move the pan to the indirect cooking zone on your grill and cover the grill.

Let the Seafood Cook

Shutterstock / Michael-John Wolfe

Leave the vents on your grill open and be sure to monitor the temperature of your grill so that it stays at 350 degrees F. The mussels and clams should pop open after about 20 minutes. Then, serve your seafood and vegetables with a nice loaf of crusty bread (for soaking up the juices) and ice-cold beers.


How to Host a Clambake in Your Backyard

Landlocked? No problem. In the excerpt below from James Beard's Treasury of Outdoor Cooking, our namesake shares a simple guide for bringing the classic seaside soirée onto dry land. Load up on clams, lobster, chicken, potatoes, corn, and butter, and you've got yourself a summertime feast&mdashsans the sand-filled shoes.

Although clambakes are traditionally held on the beach, they may be done in your backyard, as well. In either case, you will need a pit about 2 to 3 feet deep and 3 feet in diameter. It must be lined with rocks&mdashnice, smooth, oval rocks&mdasharranged in as level a manner as possible.

Build a good fire and keep it going for several hours, or until the ricks are thoroughly heated. Rake all the coals and brush off the ashes. Now work rapidly. At this point, the various ingredients should go into the pit, in sequence, as quickly as possible. Cover the hot ashes with seaweed about 6 inches deep (if you are not near the sea, substitute leaves and ferns).

Cover this with a piece of wire mesh, and then layers of well-washed, soft-shelled clams. A bushel will serve 30 persons. Add a live lobster for each person. Then take your choice of sweet potatoes, white potatoes, or corn (from which the silk has been removed and the husk left) add chicken halves wrapped in foil or parchment.

Make a layer of your selection and cover with more seaweed, then with a piece of canvas. Weight the canvas down with large rocks. A clambake should steam for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the amount you are serving. If you add chickens to your clambake, I think it is wise to broil them lightly before wrapping in foil.

It is customary to eat the clams, first, served with loads of butter, then the lobster, and then the chicken. Always serve beer and great hunks of French bread.


Recipe Summary

  • 2 ½ pounds small (about 2-inch diameter) Red Bliss potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 (1 pound) cooked chorizo sausage (preferably Spanish), cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 (1 1/2) pounds lobsters
  • 48 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 4 ears fresh corn, husked and halved crosswise

Pour 1 gallon of water into a lobster pot or stockpot large enough to hold all ingredients. Add potatoes and salt and bring to a boil. Cook, covered, 10 minutes (potatoes will be slightly softened but not cooked through).

Put coriander, fennel, thyme, and peppercorns in a large piece of cheesecloth. Gather edges together and tie with kitchen string to make a pouch.

Add spice pouch, wine, chorizo, and lobsters to pot with potatoes. Boil, covered, 5 minutes. Add clams and corn and cook, covered, until lobsters are cooked and clams have opened, about 5 minutes (discard any unopened clams).

Cut each lobster in half using a heavy knife and kitchen shears. Serve each person half a lobster, 6 clams, half an ear of corn, 2 potatoes, and a piece of chorizo.


Get out the lobster crackers and your biggest pot for a festive, seaside supper, no matter where you are.

This year, lobsters are plentiful, so I’ve been having fun thinking of new ways to cook everyone’s favorite crustacean, whether on the grill, in a delicately seasoned pasta sauce, or simply steamed and chopped for a decadent lunchtime lobster roll. When it comes to entertaining, though, it’s time to go old-school with steamed lobsters, an old-fashioned clambake, and all the
trimmings.

Traditionally, a clambake—a feast of lobster, clams, sausage, potatoes, and corn—is all cooked together in a stone-lined pit dug in the sand. A fire heats the rocks, and once it has burned down to embers, layers of seaweed and shellfish go on top and then get covered with a tarp or dampened burlap to trap the heat and steam. It’s a complicated operation that involves permits and shovels, and while it’s impressive, it’s also hard to control the cooking times with a great deal of precision.

I prefer to steam the lobsters separately to ensure that they don’t overcook for even a minute, and serve it with an herbed aioli. While they steam I cook the clams, sausage, and veggies together in a big pot, adding the ingredients from the longest to the quickest cooking, so everything comes out done to perfection. The broth in the pot may be the best part: briny, smoky from the sausage, infused with butter—just the thing to dip the clams in or even hunks of good bread. Pass around a platter of crostini while the shellfish is working, open a crisp white, and you have yourself a world-class seafood feast, no beach required. For dessert? A New Orleans-meets-Italy ice cream sundae you’ll want to make all year long.


Ina Garten Wants You to Pour An Entire Bottle of Wine Into a Pot — Here's Why

Ina Garten's Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken, as seen on Food Network's Barefoot Contessa.

Related To:

Ina Garten doesn’t think you need a beach to have a delicious clambake this summer — and if Ina says it, you can believe it.

After years of catering elaborate beachside clambakes in the Hamptons, she found a genius way to skip lugging seafood to and from a beach on a boiling hot summer day. In fact, you don't even need to leave the house or have outdoor space.

That's because she uses only one pot to get all the flavors of the summertime classic at home.

In that big pot, she likes to "layer all kinds of good things," she says. That means she dumps in shell-on shrimp, juicy clams (of course!) and so many more delicious ingredients.

Piling a ton of gorgeous seafood in a pot is fun, but there's one surprising and special thing that makes cooking this dish extra over-the-top in true Ina style.

As anyone who has seen Ina make a cosmopolitan knows, she does not to shy away from the booze. And the same rule applies to wine — Ina grants us permission to do one more thing that's supremely satisfying: pour in a whole bottle of wine.

"I mean, how bad can that be?" she says.

But the best part of her Kitchen Clambake class is even simpler: "There’s no sand in your food!" Ina says. If you've ever wanted to have a true OMG-I-feel-like-I'm-Ina-Garten moment, then you need to take this class.


How to Throw a Clambake (Party in a Pot!)

You don't need a beach--or an afternoon tending to the fire pit--to make this quintessential summer feast. All you need is a pot, some seafood, and a gang of friends. Click below to find out how to have a perfect clambake from start to finish. And keep your eyes peeled for a few surprising tips (use eggs to determine when your lobster is done!).

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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If Your Bake Includes&hellip

Live Lobsters

You can elect to cook them in the steamer or in a separate pot. If you&rsquore using the steamer, just place lobsters directly on contents. Either way, you&rsquoll want to steam them for 15-18 minutes.

Pre-Cooked Lobsters

Just put them directly on steamer contents for 10-15 minutes. Hint: corn and pre-cooked lobsters can be placed in steamer at the same time.

Lobster Tails

Place directly on steamer contents, and steam for 40 minutes or so if tails are frozen, 20 minutes or so if thawed. You can also cook the tails in a separate pot. Plate tails in a pot of cold, salted water, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

King Crab

Place directly on steamer contents. If the crab is frozen, steam for 20 minutes. If thawed, 10 minutes should do the trick. Hint: put the crab on a small piece of aluminum foil before you put it in the steamer. It keeps the crab together and prevents it from falling down into the other bake ingredients! You can do this with all additional items.


How to Plan Your Lobster Clambake

If you want to treat your friends and family to a clam bake, here is how you do it. You can order the seafood from your local market or call Cape Fish and Lobster Company in Hyannis, MA and have them ship the seafood to you. The number is (508) 771.1122. I have tried their seafood and it is incredibly fresh. They will crack and steam the lobsters for you but I do not recommend it if you are having the lobsters shipped.

You may also go to lobsters-online and they have Lobster clambake packages you can order. Since lobsters are so inexpensive right now, the price may be higher than if you order everything individually. Call both places and see who has the best price.


Preparing the Food

The quantity of food you buy to cook depends on the crowd size. An intimate feed for 6 to 8 people calls for at least one 1 1/4-pound lobster per person, 2 pounds new potatoes, 6 pounds littleneck or cherrystone clams, and 1 ear of corn per person (husk on). If you're expecting more, bump up the quantities to the sufficient amount of food needed—your fire pit can handle it. Purchase your lobster and clams live, and on the day of cooking, and keep them chilled until you're ready to steam them. Rinse and scrub the clams in a sink, prior to cooking, and wash and pierce the potatoes with a knife. Then, wrap the corn and potatoes individually in foil and load all the food items into a cheesecloth sack, placing it on top of the embers. Cover the food with another 2 inches of wet seaweed and watch it steam.

(Note: Have a few buckets of seawater on hand to drizzle over the pit for a good steam. Having water available also serves as a safety precaution, in the event of a fire gone out of control.)


Eat Hearty at a Clambake Party

The New England Clambake is a beloved culinary tradition that uses seawater and seaweed to steam seafood and vegetables in a large hole dug in the sand. The Native Americans first shared this method of cooking with the New England colonists. Today, this humble yet extravagant meal is the perfect centerpiece for a summer get-together.

Classic clambakes feature Maine lobsters, clams and mussels, and sausage like kielbasa or chorizo. Vegetables traditionally include corn on the cob, red potatoes, and onions. The Native Americans also used oysters, scallops, and squashes.

There are many useful tips online to turn the novice into a &ldquobakemaster.&rdquo The basic idea is to use seawater and seaweed to steam the ingredients over your heat source. The traditional method uses a pit and a wood fire, but the grill can offer a convenient shortcut to suit your needs.

Clambakes yield a lot of food but take time. To test for doneness, check the potatoes – when they&rsquore tender, the rest is ready to go! Serve the meal with butter, fresh lemon, and lobster crackers – and maybe have some watermelon for dessert.

There&rsquos no party like a Clambake Party! While there is a lot of effort involved, the preparation is a fun part of the ritual. Kids can help gather seaweed and driftwood while learning about cooking. The whole family can experience food together and connect with the area through nature&rsquos bounty.

If you&rsquore thinking of hosting a clambake party, think big! Places to host a party often include backyards and beaches, but these may be small and many forbid open fires. The private beaches and spacious grounds of historic Tupper Manor are the perfect place to hold a clambake, and family and friends can be a part of North Shore history.


Watch the video: How to Throw a Classic Clambake (October 2021).