Sunday, July 14, 2013

Backyard Clambake

Since the first summer we lived in this house we have dreamed of hosting a backyard clambake. As spring gives way to warmer temperatures, the conversations begin and yet in 7 years we have never let it come into fruition. Until last weekend.
We invited some of our nearest and dearest and set the plans in motion for a seafood feast that would beat all. I set up a self service bar for making Gin & Tonics and classic Cape Codder cocktails. The cooler outside was filled to the brim with beer. It was blazing hot out so I covered the dining room table in newspaper and set individual place settings complete with a small tin pail for shells and discard. I set out a board of cheese, prosciutto, artichoke tapenade, and some fruit and veg with an assortment of crackers for noshing while the meal was prepared.
I turned to one of my all time favorites for direction - Ina Garten has a Kitchen Clambake recipe in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook that was not only simple, but unbelievably delicious! We cooked the entire meal in a 21 quart pot on our charcoal grill. I made Ina's Panzanella Salad and had fresh grilled corn on the cob on the side, but the clambake was so filling that no one had room for anything else. Note to self: this meal is truly a one pot wonder!

Kitchen Clambake from Ina Garten
1 1/2lbs. kielbasa (I used sweet italian sausage)
3 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups chopped leeks (white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. small potatoes - red or white (I used red)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 lb steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, in the shell
3 lobsters (1 1/2 lbs each)
2 cups good dry white wine

Slice the kielbasa/sausage diagonally into 1 inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute onions and leeks in olive oil in a heavy bottomed 16-20 quart stockpot on medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order:
Potatoes, salt and pepper, the the kielbasa/sausage, littleneck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a board, cut them up and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste and serve immediately in mugs with the clambake.

Cape Codders
3 oz cranberry juice
2 oz vodka
Lime wedge for garnish

Pour the ingredients into a highball glass with ice cubes.
Stir well.
Squeeze the lime juice into the drink.
Drop the lime wedge into the glass.


  1. This looks delicious! The word clambake is new to me. Learned something again today :-) !!

  2. Looks amazing. Will definitely try the drink and maybe be brave enough to try the clambake

  3. This looks gorgeous Eleanor....what a fab idea:) Best of luck also with the shop!

  4. all of this clambake looks and sounds delicious. i haven't had a clambake in years but i think it would definitely brighten up my summer if i had one this year just like this! gorgeous!