How To Have A Successful Lobster Clambake
By Jimmy Faro
So, you're having a clambake? Whether cooking on the shores of the ocean, in an outdoor grill, or on the stovetop in the comfort of your apartment, clambakes are a great way to enjoy phenomenal New England seafood. Based on the Native American tradition of cooking seafood over hot coals buried in the ground, clambakes have grown in popularity over the years and can be enjoyed by everyone.
The first step is to go to choose your ingredients. If you're lucky enough to have a store nearby that sells fresh lobster, clams, and mussels, you can do that, but consider first if you will need to transport your fresh seafood to another location, and how you will package it to keep it fresh. Another option is to purchase fresh lobster online and have the lobster shipped overnight to your location. If purchasing your lobsters online, make sure you plan ahead and place the order online before the date of your event. Then place your order and you're on your way to a feast!
Next, you'll need to decide where you'll be doing your cooking. If you will be cooking in a public place, especially if you plan on digging a clambake pit, you'll need permission from you local parks or government office. If you are cooking at home, you're ready to go. No matter where you are doing your cooking, the idea is to generate steam while keeping your food packed together. Some clambakes forgo the use of charcoal and rely solely on hot rocks and seaweed to produce enough heat and steam to "bake" the food, but charcoal is perfectly adequate.
Suggested Ingredients: (per person):
One of the fun things about doing a clambake is that you are free to pick and choose what you would like in your bake. You may want to do only lobsters and corn, or you may want to add a little bit of everything. This is a time that you can completely cater to your personal preferences!
˝ lb. shellfish, including any or all: mussels, oysters, clams/steamers
˝ lb. sausage (linguica, kielbasa, or andouille recommended)
˝ onion, cut into quarters
1 ear of corn
beer, 2 cans or more, or water
Directions for cooking your clambake in a pit or on the grill:
Dig your pit, making it wide enough and deep enough to hold your ingredients. Fill the pit with charcoal, light your fire, and surround the coals with medium to large rocks. Do not cover the charcoal because you could put the fire out. Let the rocks heat up so they are hot enough that a sprinkle of water will bounce off. If using a charcoal grill, remove the grate from the grill, and follow the same instructions as for a pit.
When the coals are burning brightly, begin layering your ingredients: seaweed, clams/oysters, linguica/sausage (if using), potatoes, corn, lobster, more seaweed, and then a layer of wet burlap that you've thoroughly soaked in beer to help seal in the moisture and keep the steam going. If using a grill, you won't need the burlap and can simply close the top.
Cook for approximately 1 hour.
Directions for a stovetop boil:
You'll need the biggest pot you can find. Don't worry if you don't have a fancy, expensive pot in which to cook your lobster/clam boil. The inexpensive lobster pots work just great. Depending on the size you find and the ingredients you are using, you can generally cook enough food for 2-4 people with one of these pots.
Heat a tablespoon of butter in the pot and add the sausage and onion. Sauté until the onion softens and the sausage begins to cook through. Then add a layer of shellfish. Pour in the beer and then place the lobsters and corn in the pot so that all your food is nicely packed in. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and cook for 12-15 minutes.
Serve your seafood with plenty of melted butter so everyone has enough for dunking steamers and lobsters! Lemon wedges can be squeezed over all the seafood. Nothing completes a clambake or lobster bake like delicious New England clam chowder, cole slaw, and Boston baked beans.
About the Author
Jimmy Faro is the Owner of Lobsterclambake.com ( http://www.lobsterclambake.com ), a division of Constitution Seafood. A fourth generation Lobster & Seafood New Englander born in the business in a small seaside town in Massachusetts, he and the staff at Lobsterclambake.com work directly with lobster boats and seafood dealers from Maine to Rhode Island to give you the freshest lobsters and seafood that you would expect from New England's pristine coast and pure cold Atlantic waters.
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