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Adding the ingredients in the right order is the secret to this recipe’s success; the ones that take longest to cook go in first. The optional layer of seaweed (available from most fishmongers) imparts a salty ocean essence and keeps the potatoes off the bottom of the pot.
2 large or 3 medium onions, cut into large wedges
6 garlic cloves
1 cup water
1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes (white, red, or a combination)
1 pound Spanish-style dried chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (andouille or smoked kielbasa sausage can be substituted)
3-4 lobsters (1 1/2 pounds each)
36 littleneck clams, scrubbed well
4 ears of corn, husked and halved
2 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed well
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (about 30), shell-on
TIPS & NOTES
- Make Ahead Tip: Equipment: Large stockpot, collapsible metal steamer basket
- Tip: To clean mussels, scrub with a stiff brush under cold running water. Scrape off any barnacles using the shell of another mussel. Pull off the fuzzy “beard” from each one (some mussels may not have a beard).
- How to Shell a Lobster: Grasp claw at the knuckle, near the body. With a firm twist, remove the claw from the body. Repeat with the second claw. To remove claw meat, crack through the claw shell using a pair of kitchen shears or a lobster cracker. Holding the body in one hand and firmly grasping the tail in the other, twist and gently pull the tail from the body. (Discard the body.) Cut the tail in half lengthwise with kitchen shears, starting from the underside. Serve halves in the shell or remove the meat.
Combine onions, garlic, and water in a 16-quart stockpot. Place a steamer basket on top of onions. Add potatoes, chorizo, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil. Add lobsters; cook over high heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Add clams and corn; cook, covered, for 6 minutes. Add mussels and shrimp; cook, covered, until clams and mussels open and shrimp are cooked through, 4 to 8 minutes.
Remove seafood, corn, potatoes, and chorizo using tongs, and transfer to large platters or rimmed baking sheets. Discard any unopened clams and mussels. Strain liquid through a sieve into a bowl; add butter, swirling to melt. Squeeze lemons over clambake.
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
- Old Bay seasoning
- 4 lemon wedges
Divide melted butter among 4 small cups and season to taste with salt. Ladle some broth from pot into 4 small bowls. Discard any steamers or mussels that have not opened and loosely arrange food on plates. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Place one cup of butter, one dish of broth, and one lemon wedge on each plate. Have bowls for shells and plenty of napkins at the ready.
For an outdoor clambake, the food is layered from the longest cooking time (on the bottom) to the shortest. In the indoor version, all ingredients must cook in the same time, so the potatoes are boiled in advance. Rockweed is a seaweed that grows along the shores of the North Atlantic. In traditional clambakes, it’s layered over and under the ingredients — its seawater-filled pockets burst during cooking, adding moisture and the flavor of the sea. In this version, White uses rockweed to line the pot. If you live near New England, ask your fishmonger to sell you some — it’s used to pack shellfish, and so is often abundant at seafood markets. If rockweed is unavailable, feel free to use a regular steamer rack instead. Choose lobsters that weigh 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each.
Image Source: Martha Stewart Living, July 2010