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Old 07-27-2006, 05:32 AM   #1
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ISO: New England Clam Bake

i absolutely love new england clam bakes. with lobsters, hard and soft shell clams, sausage, redskin potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, etc., all steamed together, shelled and dipped in butter. it's nearly nirvana.

however, i have never made one at home, and would like to give it a try while lobsters are on sale at $5.99/lb., and the corn is sweet.

how do you cook your clam bake?
what kind of pot do you use? i know a pit in the sand is best, but i'm doing this at home.
what is your steaming liquid?
do you use seaweed and/or cheesecloth?
can it be done on a charcoal grill?

tia.

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Old 07-27-2006, 05:36 AM   #2
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Michael Chiarella did one on the food network just a few days ago, you may want to check that site and see his method. It looked great. I can't remember when, but it was within the last week. I remember he put things in layers and added seaweed.
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Old 07-27-2006, 10:17 AM   #3
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BT I have never made this one, but I saw it on TV and it looked great! This is from Americas Test Kitchen. I have changed the wording so that it is not a copyright violation.

2 lb littleneck or cherrystone clams, scrubbed
2 lb mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1lb kielbasa slice into 1/3 inch rounds
1 lb small red or new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 med ears corn, silk and all but last layer of husk removed
2 live lobsters
8 tbsp salter butter, melted

Take a piece of cheesecloths and put the clams and mussels into it. Tie it together to make a pouch. Set aside.

Take the largest pot you have and put these in in this order:
kielbasa
sack of clams and mussels
potatoes
corn
lobsters

Cover the whole thing with a lid and place on high heat.
Cook until a paring knife goes into the potatoes easily.

The kielbasa starts to cook on the bottom and releases some juice which turns to steam and starts cooking the clams and mussels. They in turn open up and release their liquid which hits the bottom of the pan and turns to steam as well. That is all the liquid you will need.

Yes I know it is sacrilege to cook this inside. I supposed you could put the whole thing on a grill if you wanted to.
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Old 07-27-2006, 10:36 AM   #4
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If you have access to a turkey fryer, that would be ideal. It has the fire power to handle a large pot and the pot comes with it.

GB has a good process. Of course you can add seasonings to the pot to go along with the flavors of the ingredients. Crab boil seasonings come to mind but they're not authentic to New England.
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Old 07-28-2006, 12:18 AM   #5
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thank you licia, gb, and andy.

i'm probably gonna pick up some little monsters (the nickname in our house for lobsters, from "joe v.s. the volcano") this weekend. i'm gonna see if i can find fresh seaweed to add to the layers. if not, no biggie. thanks again!
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckytom
Joe v.s. the volcano
Man do I love that movie!!!
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Old 07-28-2006, 01:07 PM   #7
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I've never had a real New England Clambake, but many years back we used to have a seafood shop that used to sell "Love Buckets" which you would order the day before you needed it. The Love Bucket consisted of a potato chip tin (a bit smaller than a 5 gal bucket) filled with 2 chicken lobsters 1 doz large shrimp, 1 doz cherrystone clams, 2 doz mussels, red skin potatoes and corn on the cob all seasoned with Old Bay crab seasoning. You would take the bucket home, pour two beers into it, put it on the stove over high flame, cover with the lid (which had holes poked into it to allow steam to escape) and steam for 20 mins. While the bucket steamed you would melt butter for dipping. Heck of a deal for $34.95 and if you took the potato chip tin back to him he would give you $5.00 back! The only real problem with his cooking directions is that the shrimp, mussels and clams were always overcooked. I only did that once and learned to add those later in the steaming process.
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Old 07-31-2006, 04:50 AM   #8
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1-800-Live-Lob or wwwLiveLob.com

I got one of these as a gifts for our last two anniversaries from my parents. A Maine Shore Clambake Deluxe. It comes with literally everything you need AND instructions on how to prepare it. I'm sure it's quite expensive, but I live in a part of the country where there isn't a lobster tank in sight. I can get live clams during the Christmas holildays -- that is, the time of year when I'm either preparing a party, going to a party, or eating lettuce and drinking water to recover between parties. These annual gifts from Mom and Dad are such a pleasure. The FedEx guy looks at the box and asks, "this isn't really live .....???" Yup. Live lobsters, live clams. Yuummmm. As I said, they come with all the instructions on how to prepare it from beginning through eating. And Yes, my parents are from New England originally, and give it their stamp of approval. Last year 3 of the clams were dead, this year only one (they pack enough to allow for that). When I called Mom she gave me a quiz. I passed. (How do you know if a clam is dead?)
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Old 07-31-2006, 04:54 AM   #9
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it uses it's foot to kick a bucket?

umm, if you tap it, it doesn't close. but some are dead while closed, so the corollary is they're also no good if theyy don't open when cooked.
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Old 08-01-2006, 05:34 AM   #10
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Yup, Bucky, I passed it. You thunk them together and watch them close. THEN you still throw out any that do not open when cooked. In this case one was borderline ... the shell was broken. I actually think it was alive, but don't believe in taking chances when it comes to shellfish.

When we did these from scratch, though, we tended to steam/boil things separately. Why? MY BIGGEST stock pot, and I own a big one, can only handle a clam bake for 2 or 4, and 4 is pushing it. You need a LOT of water to drown a pair of lobsters.

When we lived in DC I'd buy "clambakes" from Sutton Place Gourmet. They came with instructions and industrial-sized aluminum containers (meant to put in your oven or on your grill). But when my parents lived there, they'd go to Waterside and buy it all from scratch. BUT --- say you're feeding a half dozen people. Trust me, it isn't going to fit on one pot, period. If I was cooking for more than four, every single burner on the stove would be going. I'd be lying down in the middle of the kitchen floor, sweating, between courses. But as a general rule I think lobsters go on the bottom, corn and potatoes in the middle (they have to be small reds or they won't cook before your lobsters turn to rubber) and clams, oysters, mussels go on top. You can layer them with seaweed, ti (hey Wasabi), banana leaves -- or really nothing at all. When the clams open, you know everything is done.
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