10 Easy Steps to Host a Traditional Clambake

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An old-fashioned clambake on the beach is an event that shouldn't be missed. An American tradition, the clambake date back hundreds of years to when the first European settlers learned the practice of cooking food in a pit of hot rocks from the Native Americans. The tradition is still popular today and is often a grand celebration.

Plan to spend the whole day at the beach for a clambake. It takes several hours to get the pit ready and hot plus time for cooking.

The ingredients of choice typically involve clams and lobster (or other shellfish), potatoes and corn. Probably very similar to what our ancestors chose to cook.

Wherever you choose to hold your clambake, make sure it's legal to cook on the beach. Invite lots of friends and let them help with the digging.

10 Steps to Host a Perfect Clambake

  1. Gather your ingredients: 12 1-pound lobsters, 3 pounds new potatoes, 12 pounds littleneck or cherrystone clams (scrubbed and rinsed), 1 dozen ears of corn (husk on), 2 pounds spicy sausages (optional), and 1 1/2 pounds butter (melted). Store your ingredients in coolers until ready to cook.
  2. Dig your pit on the beach - 3 feet deep and about 4 or 5 feet in diameter.
  3. Line the bottom of the pit with large, round stones about 6 to 8 inches in diameter.
  4. Build a fire on top of the rocks using hardwood you have brought. (How to Build a Fire.) Driftwood can also be used if you can find any. Let burn for approximately 4 hours, feeding the fire with new wood when necessary. The rocks should be good and hot. Test the heat by splashing some water on the rocks - the water should sizzle. Let the fire die down to just embers - about another 2 hours.
  1. Rake out the wood, ash, and embers. Cover the hot rocks with a thick layer of wet seaweed (about 3-inches).
  2. Wrap the potatoes, sausage, and clams in foil or cheesecloth separately and lay onto the seaweed. Add the corn and the lobsters.
  3. Cover the food with another 2 inches of wet seaweed. If the seaweed is not very wet, you will have to add a bucket of sea water to create good steam.
  1. Cover the entire pit with burlap sacks or canvas that has been soaked in sea water. Secure the burlap with heavy rocks or sand to keep in the steam.
  2. Let the food cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When done, the clam shells should be open and the potatoes easily pierced with a fork. Use oven mitts or leather gloves to remove the food from the pit.
  3. Serve buffet style with the melted butter, salt & pepper, and good, cold beer.