This month host the clambake that has all the traditional elements, the best baked clam recipe and tasty deliciousness of the East Coast no matter where you live.
What is a clambake, you might ask? Well, the official definition is “an outdoor social gathering at which clams and other seafood (and often chicken, potatoes, and sweet corn) are baked or steamed, traditionally in a pit, over heated stones and under a bed of seaweed.” Going off that definition, we love clambakes. And, seaside or desert-bound, the classic clambake is an end-of-summer tradition we just can’t get enough of. Here, we spoke with Proof, An American Canteen Sous Chef Dell Morris from The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North to get the low-down on how to make this summer sensation an unforgettable event, with the best-baked clam.
GATHER YOUR GOODS
“Anything goes,” says Dell Morris, who recommends picking up seafood and shellfish that’s fresh and most appealing when you arrive at the market. “I do mussels, clams, lobsters, lobster tails, King crab—you pretty much can’t go wrong.” What’s most important is selecting seafood that’s fresh, especially if you aren’t seaside. “I like to ask the butcher to bring the frozen King crab out just so I know how long it’s actually been thawed and make sure it’s fresh for the clam bake,” Dell Morris says.
Ask the butcher to look at the seafood you’re buying and make sure all of your clams and mussels are open. Discard any that are closed, as it means they’re dead and shouldn’t be eaten. Finally, give it all a big whiff. “It’s kind of weird but just make sure it smells fresh; it should smell like the ocean.”
If you aren’t sure where to shop, in her hometown Dell Morris recommends Chula Seafood or Nelson’s Meat & Fish as well as the Asian markets like Lee Lee, the latter of which often has live lobsters, fish and Dungeness crab. You can also order it online and shipped frozen from Vital Seafood or Pike Place Market in Seattle.
PREP THE FEAST
As far as how to prepare the best baked clam recipe, del Morris recommends the grill. “It’s the most approachable way, in my opinion, to not make a big mess. Make a tinfoil boat, put all the stuff inside there and then you just put it on your grill on low heat.”
Other traditional accompaniments include Andouille sausage, potatoes and corn as well. “You can do corn on the cob, put it inside your clambake or peel them back and grill them on the grill,” he says.
Cover your whole picnic table with newspaper or butcher paper or whatever kind of paper you have, and then just take your boil and just pour it out on top of the middle of the table.
SET THE SCENE
A classic clambake is a casual affair, and that’s something that should be embraced. “Cover your whole picnic table with newspaper or butcher paper or whatever kind of paper you have, and then just take your boil and just pour it out on top of the middle of the table,” del Morris says. Let everyone gather their plates and eat family style. Set out lemons, Tabasco and utensils to crack any shellfish. When you’re done, you simply roll up the paper, and toss everything in the trash. Bibs, butter dishes and plenty of paper towels add to the fun.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: A THOROUGHLY MODERN FALL FEAST
Make place cards out of leftover mussels for a fun and festive decor element.
SERVE COOL DRINKS
Keeping with the theme of a family-style affair, serve cool drinks everyone can grab. A non-alcoholic option, like a big either of strawberry lemonade, is refreshing and festive for this summer affair. For wine aficionados, Dell Morris recommends the Pillsbury Chardonnay; set the bottles directly on the table to encourage guests to serve themselves. “I like beer so I would go with that when it’s a hot summer day it pairs great with seafood,” he says recommending a Saison, Arizona Wilderness, or Wren House.