Nothing says “summer in New England” quite like a good-old fashioned clambake. However, nobody is born with the knowledge of how to prepare one but cast your fears aside – we’re here to help you. Your first option is to go with the nostalgic clambake on the beach. You’ll have to be careful with this one though, as many public beaches no longer allow you to do this. Make sure that your beach of choice permits clambakes, or else you could find yourself slapped with a heavy fine and a seafood-less day. In addition to discerning whether or not your clambake is legal, you’ll also want to make sure that you prepare your meal far enough from the shore so that it won’t be snuffed out when high tide rolls around.
Once you’ve handled these preliminary essentials, you’ll be ready to start your clambake. Here’s what you’ll need in terms of food and supplies: a shovel, several rounded stones, wooden planks (or driftwood), sea-water soaked seaweed, a sea-water soaked canvas sheet, corn, potatoes, metal grilling grate, linguiça sausages, and of course, clams. When it comes to the clams, you’ll have three choices. In order from size to smallest to largest, they are Littleneck clams, Cherrystone clams, and Quahog clams. We personally recommend the Quahogs as they are the largest and often the most flavorful.
Now that you have the legal permission, proper positioning, and supplies, you can finally start to prepare your clam bake. First off, you’ll want to dig a hole that is around 2 feet in depth. Line the bottom of your pit with stones and seaweed, packing them in tightly so that there is little to no open space in between. Be sure to keep your seaweed fresh by way of keeping it stored in a container with seawater until it is ready to use. Once this is done, place your metal grill on top of the stones and seaweed and top it with either driftwood or wooden grilling planks. Light the planks and get a fire going. After this, the next step is to place yet more stones on top of the fire and let them remain there in until they are glowing with heat. Take caution to ensure that your fire will burn out shortly after optimal temperature (glowing stones) is achieved.
With this done, you’ll then move on to brushing the ashes from the stones and seaweed and sweeping them around such that they fall in between the seaweed and stones for insulation purposes. Next, drape a layer of wet seaweed on top of the stones and after this, it’s finally time for your food to enter the equation. Place it on top of the seaweed and then continue to alternate layers of seaweed and food until your pit is nearly full. The mainstays of any clambake are obviously seafoods such as clams, mussels, and lobsters, but they can be augmented through the use of some tasty sides like corn, carrots, onions, potatoes, and linguiça sausages. Once you’ve entered in all of your food and seaweed, it’ll then be time to cover your pit with a canvas sheet that has been soaked in seawater. This will help to prevent heat from escaping the pit. After this, all that’s left is to play the waiting game, as it will take approximately 3 hours for your clambake to steam up to the right degree of heat.
Can’t make it out to the beach? No problem! You can easily set up a clambake in your own back yard, with a few minor alterations. All of your food items will be the same, but instead of a metal grill, you’ll want to employ the use of an (obviously) never previously-used metal trash can. You’ll also want to have some salt and vinegar on hand. Fill the trash can with about 3 inches of water and then pour into it about a cup of vinegar, as well as a generous portion of salt. Set up a fire pit and once it’s going strong, place the trash can on top of it. Much like the beach clambake, you’ll then want to alternate layers of seaweed and seafood/vegetables & sausages until you’ve used all of it up. When this has been done, all you need to do is place the lid on top of the metal trash can and let everything cook over the fire for about 2 hours. Periodically check to see if the clams and mussels have opened up. If they have, the heating is done and you can start getting ready to serve. If there are any shellfish that persistently stay closed after heating, it is best to discard them.1
Option number three is an indoor clam boil. This is one of the more simple methods of preparing this delicious summertime hit. The first step will be to get a large boiling pot and to fill it with about 2-3 inches of water. Before turning up the heat to get the water boiling, it’s a good idea to add in the vegetables and sausages since they’ll take longer to steam up than the shellfish will. Once the water has heated up a bit, add in your clams, mussels, and lobsters. Once again, you can tell that the cooking is complete when the lobster achieves a bright red hue and the shellfish have opened up.
Now if any of the above options don’t suit you, we still have you covered. If you don’t want to bother with the gathering of all the various ingredients for your clambake, you can swing on by to Atlantic Seafood and pick up our famous “Lobster Bake in a Can”. When you buy one of these, you get treated to lobster, fingerling potatoes, corn on the cob, and your choice of mussels, steamers, or littlenecks (smallest steamer variety). You can get this deal for $29.99 while supplies last, but we do ask that you return the can when you’re done.
No matter which method you choose, a clambake is a time-honored tradition that every true-blooded New Englander should experience. The preparation methods may vary, but the end result is always a sumptuous feast that will satisfy all appetites.
Works Cited 1. Author Unavailable
How to Cook a Beach Clambake