How to Do a Clambake at Home
It was an obvious choice. For our first goop by the Sea event, in Nantucket, we wanted to work with Curtis Stone. The beloved chef and owner of the LA restaurants Gwen and Maude (both charmingly named after his grandmothers) knows how to bring food regions to life in the kitchen. For the last two years, Maude’s ambitious and inventive menus have revolved entirely around the world’s best wine regions—which, yes, also happen to produce exquisite food.
We asked Stone to focus on a different kind of regional food specialty and develop a quintessentially Nantucket summer dinner for us. Between the oyster-shucking station, peak-season tomato salad, and sweet-corn-and-lobster-laden clambake…again, it was an obvious choice.
Wherever you are, if you want a taste of New England summer: Stone and his team are sharing their Nantucket clambake recipe, along with step-by-step instructions for assembly.
Curtis Stone’s Clambake
This Nantucket-inspired clambake can be re-created in your backyard, on the beach, or on a BBQ.
Prep time: approximately 2 hours
Cook time: 1 hour
Firewood serves two purposes: It will ignite the coals. And it will act as a weight on top of a painter’s tarp to trap the steam needed to cook your food.
Lump hardwood charcoal works best; we buy it from the local hardware store.
We get rockweed from our local seafood market.
Also available at the hardware store. Folded in half, the tarp should be large enough to cover the whole clambake.
These are optional for larger clambakes; they act as a barrier to contain the coals. Use enough to make a firepit scaled to your needs. For beach bakes, the coals can go directly into a pit carved into the sand. BBQ bakes can be done on the bottom of the grill with the rack lowered or removed.
WIRE RESTING RACKS
To make it easy to load food over the coals and later remove it.
To remove cooked vegetables and seafood from the bake.
LARGE TONGS AND KITCHEN TOWELS
For safe handling!
Ingredients (per Person)
- 8 to 10 clams, Manila or another small varietal
- ½ to 1 live lobster or lobster tail (optional)
- 1 ear sweet yellow corn
- 3 fingerling or other small potatoes
- 2 summer squash and/or any other available farmers’ market vegetables
1. Get the fire started! First place an even layer of firewood as a base, then spread the charcoal on top of the firewood. Briquettes can be used to start larger fires in a pit, but for smaller bakes, newspaper and matches will ignite just fine. Let the fire burn for 1 to 2 hours depending on its size, or until it burns down to white-hot coals with no direct flame.
2. Soak the painter’s tarp with water. This will trap steam and protect the bake during the cooking process.
3. Clean the clams. Soak the clams in cold water with a touch of sea salt for an hour. In this process, called “purging,” the live clams will release any remaining grit they have held on to.
4. Prepare the vegetables. For our clambake, we chose sweet yellow corn, fingerling potatoes, baby pattypan squash, and baby zucchini. Baby vegetables work great because prep time (aside from a good wash) is minimal. We shucked the corn so that its cook time would match that of the other vegetables. Any seasonal vegetable of the same size will work perfectly fine. We assembled the potatoes and squash in an even layer on a wire rack for even cooking and easier loading and removal from the coals.
5. Pile it on. Have all components handy and standing by. Once the coals are ready, work fast. This process should take no more than 1 to 2 minutes! First goes the rockweed. This step covers the smoldering coals. The seaweed will pop to create steam to cook the bake as well as impart incredible favor. Second, load the wire racks of vegetables flat and directly on top of the rockweed. Place the sweet corn over the racks, then layer the seafood on top. This gives the whole bake the beautiful flavors and aroma you expect from the sea. If lobsters are in the mix, place them on the bake top-side down. Cover all the food with the second and final layer of rockweed.
6. Drape the water-soaked painter’s tarp over the bake. Weigh down all edges with the remaining firewood so that no steam escapes.
7. Let cook for at least 1 hour or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through and the clams are open. (The time will increase depending on the number of items in the bake.)
8. Season the vegetables with salt, pepper, and olive oil if desired.
9. Outfit guests with lobster crackers, sturdy plates, and plenty of napkins. It’s on!