COOKING UP A CLAM BAKE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Cooking up a Clam Bake For the Whole Family – Cooking – you either love it or hate it. While it can feel like a chore, when you do it for other people, it’s proven to impact you positively. Writer Michael Pollan says that cooking strengthens bonds and deepens connections while also boosting happiness. What better way to tick off these boxes than by preparing a hearty meal for the whole family? Seafood is always best eaten communally, and it will be a special treat to contrast your regular mealtimes.
Taking the cue from our friends across the pond, we’ll be covering a fish-filled feast inspired by the New England clam bake. This originates from some of the earliest settlers of the Atlantic Coast. Inspired by coastal Indians, they would cover their seafood with a layer of seaweed before steaming them over hot coals. Traditionally, this would entail digging a hole in the sand and lining it with stones and a wood fire for cooking. However, for the sake of convenience, you can simply recreate the taste and experience from the comfort of your own stovetops.
The reason we have chosen this dish is two-fold. The first is that it is a popular 4th July dish and with that date coming up what better way to celebrate than with some American cuisine. The second is that this dish has a lot in common with our British tastes. Fish is one half of our national dish and the drink that completes this American clam bake tradition is a cold pitcher of sweet iced tea. It’s no secret that we Brits love our tea with Gala Bingo noting that 31% of people in the UK have five or more cups per day, and this recipe is a good excuse to try the American’s adaptation of our national drink. Iced tea the perfect refreshing complement to a piping hot, savoury seafood feast. While you have your seafood steaming, you can get your kettles brewing and pitchers mixing.
This recipe, adapted from The Spruce Eats is sure to be a hit for the whole family.
Time: 50 minutes – 20 minutes of preparation; 30 minutes of cooking
72 fresh and scrubbed littleneck clams
910g fresh, de-bearded, and cleaned mussels
2 stalks of celery, cut into quarters crosswise
6 sprigs thyme
6 sprigs parsley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
12 small potatoes
6 peeled small onions
680g sausage cut into six pieces, preferably cooked and smoked
6 ears of fresh, husked corn
2 tablespoons of butter
- Transfer the mussels, clams, and cornmeal into a bowl and submerge them with cold salted water for thirty minutes.
- Wrap your thyme, parsley, and peppercorns with cheesecloth and tie together to create a “bouquet garni.” Transfer this into a large pot of sixty to seventy-five litres, then fill this halfway with water.
- When you bring this to a boil on medium-high heat, you can then throw in the lobsters head first then cover with a lid. Boil until they turn bright red, about eight minutes. Remove lobsters from the pot.
- Add in the potatoes and onions and remove excess water so that there is just enough to cover these vegetables. Cover once again to allow them to cook for ten minutes. Add a layer of sausages and corn and cook until the potatoes are tender.
- After rinsing the clams again, put these over the corn and sausages, followed by the lobsters. You can cover the pot while waiting for the clams to open, then remove it from the burner.
- Serve the seafood, meat, and vegetables on a platter. Remove unopened mussels or clams. Season with salt and pepper, and squeeze with lemon.
- Strain the cooking brine (also called ‘tea’) and mix with butter. Serve this with your seafood – with some iced sweet tea on the side too, of course.
Enjoy your home-cooked meal with your family! If you have leftovers, you can always repurpose them into fried rice, seafood pie, or anything else you fancy.