Thursday, July 7, 2011

How To: A Proper New England Clam Bake

The promised Clam Bake How To :)

A classic New England Clam Bake is a fabulous way to spend a sunny, summer afternoon/evening, with good friends, good drinks, and good food...that being said, not many people know the proper way to throw a classic NE Clam bake.  I was guilty as charged until I met Tripp, when he showed me the seafood deliciousness wonders of what I am about to share with you (sharing is caring, right?).

This type of Clam bake does not show up in a truck, is not cooked on a stove, does not involve water (well besides the hose I guess) - this takes place in the great outdoors, with all natural cooking tools!

Essentials:

  • Open backyard/beach/field where it is legal to have a fire
  • Area big enough to dig a fire pit just small than the parameter of a full size sheet
  • Freshly picked (and kept wet!) seaweed (4 trash bags full)
  • A large tarp
  • A Full/Queen size bed sheet (that you don't mind giving to the greater good of the bake)
  • Enough stones to fill the pit
  • Enough dry wood to cover the stones and burn for about 4 - 5 hours
  • A rake (to brush the embers off the stones and fix the seaweed)
  • Enough lobsters for everyone in attendance (decent size people, don't be stingy! 1.5lb at the minimum)
  • About 10 large sweet potatoes, and 1 small/med sized sweet potato
  • 3 lbs. littleneck clams
  • 2 lbs. steamers
  • 3 lbs. mussles
  • Enough corn for everyone in attendance
  • 2 big links LinguiƧa sausage
  • 8 sheets of cheese cloth (enough to wrap the sausage, sweet potatoes and clams)
  • lots o' butter for dunking

Step 1: Select location of fire pit, dig pit (size just smaller than full sized bed sheet), fill with rocks and cover with wood.  Light bon fire and let roar for a few hours (4 - 5 to be precise - you want the wood to burn to ash)

Step 2: Wake up at crack of dawn to collect fresh, wet seaweed at low tide (make sure to keep wet until use!)


Step 3:  Wait for all of your friends to show up, drink some good drinks (beer/keg and rum drinks come to mind) and watch the fire blaze away
Step 4: Prep sweet potatoes (cut into quarters), clams, mussels and linguica (cut into 2 inch pieces) and wrap in cheese clothe bundles. DO NOT cut up the small/med sweet potato - leave separate out of bag (you will need it to be the timer for the entire bake)

Step 5: When fire is out and wood is ash (again about 4 - 5 hours), rake ashes off

Step 6: Immediately dump 1 to 1.5 bags of wet seaweed onto hot rocks (CAREFUL - VERY HOT!!) Use rake to make sure seaweed just evenly covers rocks, but not super thick (you need the rest of the seaweed to cover the rest of the food!)

Step 7: Pull rubber bands off of lobsters and throw on top of first layer of seaweed (again - CAREFUL)

Step 8: Throw on some more seaweed and the rest of the food items (corn, cheese cloths full of sweet potato, clams, mussels and linguica) and cover completely with remainder of seaweed.

Step 9: Cover completely seaweed/food pile with bed sheet and place the small/med sweet potato right in the middle on top.  Cover pile and sweet potato with the tarp after that.  Make sure to close up all steam pockets at edges with rocks (rocks will still be super hot - use the rake!)


Step 9.2: Do yoga while pointing out steam pockets on tarp that need to be covered
ignore face - the camera was set to cartoon setting...
Step 9.3: Try to make Tripp pose for pictures because he refuses to.
 
 
Like I said - cartoon settings
Step 10: Wait about 25 - 30 minutes (yes it is that fast) while you drool from the smell of baking seafood and then check sweet potato at top of pile.  If sweet potato is slightly firm, but feels cooked through - your bake is done!! Time to dig in!
Carefully pull all coverings (sheet, tarp, seaweed) off of pile and carefully pull out the pieces of food baking in the bundle...

Smash the lobsters with a butcher knife to make opening easier for me :)

  Serve up family style and enjoy!



 Don't forget to lick the plate clean!

The End...

So now that you all know the details of a classic New England Clam Bake, I am sure you are just itching to go try one! It is seriously a great way to enjoy a special occassion, family get together, friends time, any time!

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Have you ever had a clam bake in this fashion?

Not until last year! I had only thought clam bakes showed up in catering trucks!

What is your favorite thing to do at get-togethers? 

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