New England Clambake

16 Oct
New England Clambake

The Steampot

Fall is a great time of the year in New England. The Great Northern Forest’s leaves are all turning to there reds, browns, and deep purples. The air is turning crisp and dry, the smells are all changing. You want to know what I think of when I think of fall? I think of a clambake! When I was growing up, my father used to throw his annual clambake in October. I remember taking all those hundreds of littleneck clams that he would get at the fish market, scrubbing each one and soaking them in a tub full of cold water and corn meal. While those clams were soaking, we would spend an hour or so shucking the fresh corn that we had picked up from a local farm in Chardon, Ohio. After a good soaking, we would spend all morning bagging 12 clams each into individual cheesecloth bags.

My father would place all these bags in a giant steamer pot, all bunched together in a circle around a cheesecloth bag of aromatics (carrot, celery, garlic, onion, bay leaves). After placing the clams he would place sweet potatoes, the corn, and on top of all this he would place fresh chicken seasoned simply with salt and pepper. He would toss in 2 sticks of butter, and finally place one potato on top. He would always tell me that when that potato was done, the bake was ready. We would then carry the pot over to the firepit, place it on top of the grate covering the pit and let it steam away. Just about 10 minutes before the bake was done, he would throw the frozen king crab legs in the top of the bake.

We would wait with anticipation for the bake to be ready for us to eat. When that one potato was all tender,  he would take the pot off the fire and place it on the cold bricks to the side. He would then take a pitcher and fill it with the hot broth at the bottom of the steamer. The broth was by now a delicious blend of chicken juices, clam juices, vegetable juices, crab juices, butter, and garlic. He would then take the chicken off the top and finish it off on the grill, putting a nice char on the outside of the chicken. By now, my mother had brought in our take, which consisted of one dozen clams each, one sweet potato, one corn on the cob, and one steaming cup of broth.

I hope that this has made you as hungry for a fresh steamed, New England clambake as it has made me.  While you are at it, go get yourself a nicely chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio or a maybe a Argentinian Torrontes to go with this feast!


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