Happily, you don’t have to live in New England–or even near a beach–to host a festive clambake at home. Read on to get our stovetop version and menu ideas, so you can create a fun, coastal-themed dinner party no matter where you are.
Tip: Ask your fishmonger for a bit of rockweed, the brownish/green tangle of seaweed used to pack lobsters, and add it to your pot. It will lend a nice kiss of saltwater.
2 lb. hard-shell clams, such as littleneck or Maine mahogany, well scrubbed
2 quarts rockweed (seaweed), rinsed (optional)
4 live lobsters, each 1 to 1 1/4 lb.
4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
Lay a double layer of cheesecloth about 15 inches square on a work surface. Discard any clams that are gaping and do not close when tapped. Arrange half of the clams on the cloth and fold to make a flat, somewhat loose bundle. Tie the ends with kitchen string. Repeat with the remaining clams and then make a third bundle with the potatoes.
In a large pot, insert a steamer rack or perforated insert that stands several inches above the bottom of the pot. Pour in water to a depth of 1 to 2 inches. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then turn off the heat. If using the rockweed, arrange a thin layer on the steamer rack. Set the lobsters on top, arrange the bundles of potatoes and clams on the lobsters, and then cover with another layer of rockweed. Cover, bring to a rapid boil over high heat and cook for 16 to 18 minutes. After 8 minutes, lift the lid and set the ears of corn on top. Check for doneness by using tongs to see if the clams have opened. The lobsters should be bright red and the steam should carry the sweet smell of cooked lobster.
Using the tongs, remove everything from the pot, discard the rockweed and pile the food on a large platter. Snip open the bundles and discard any clams that failed to open. Divide the butter among warmed individual ramekins. Serve immediately, along with tools for cracking the lobster shells and plenty of napkins.
- Put out white wine, sparkling water and beer in broad party tubs or steel buckets filled with ice.
- Choose a nautical palette for your runners, placemats and napkins; or choose serveware with an coastal theme.
- Set hurricane lamps on the table and throughout the dining room for elegant lighting.
- Be sure to serve the meal with the right tools, like claw crackers and seafood forks.
- Start the meal with a refreshing salad (like this) and have baskets of warm, crusty bread on hand. Pile the seafood and potatoes onto a giant platter and pass around the table, along with platters of corn on the cob. Finish the meal with a fruit cobbler and vanilla ice cream.