This New England clambake, made with clams, lobster, Old Bay, sweet corn, and potatoes, is a summer classic. Easy to make at home. No sand or surf required.
The problem with New England clambakes is that they’re exclusively available to those in New England. Until now. This spectacularly land-loving approach to a clambake works its magic in the oven instead of over a campfire yet still gets you pretty far in terms of pretending you’ve got sand between your toes. You’re on your own for the actual sand and bonfire. Originally updated August 26, 2013.–Renee Schettler Rossi
New England Clambake
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 30 M
- Serves 4
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning (homemade or store-bought)
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 pounds new potatoes, halved
- Two (1 1/2 to 2 pound) lobsters
- 2 dozen Manila clams
- 4 ears fresh corn, cut into quarters
- Small bunch tarragon or flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz), melted
- Crusty bread
- 6 lemons, halved or cut into wedges
- 1. In a ginormous stock pot, bring the water, wine, Old Bay, salt, and garlic to a boil.
- 2. Toss the onion and potatoes in the pot, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Nestle the lobsters on top of the onion and potatoes, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the clams and corn and continue to cook, still covered, for 8 to 10 minutes more. [Editor’s Note: Or, if you happen to be doing your clambake on the beach, go ahead and toss the corn and the cut lemon onto the grill rack set over the bonfire to impart a slight smokiness to the final dish.] Check to see if the clamshells have opened; if not, continue to cook until they have.
- 3. Carefully remove the pot from the heat and drain the cooking liquid. Tip the contents of the pot onto a table lined with newspaper or butcher paper or transfer to a large platter. (If your guests can’t be trusted to be amicable about splitting the lobsters, you may wish to cut each one in half prior to serving.) Sprinkle everything with the herbs and set out small bowls of melted butter along with some crusty bread and lemon wedges. Instruct guests to discard any clams that haven’t opened. (You may wish to set out some small buckets or dishes so folks have a place to toss the spent lobster and clamshells.)
Recipe Testers Reviews
Oh, my STARS we had fun with this New England clambake! None of us knew what a traditional clambake might look like (our cooking/testing team included a 9-year-old, our friend who’s a chef from Thailand, and me, who’s never been part of an East Coast clam event).
We started with the homemade version of Old Bay Seasoning—easy, fun, interesting, and a great project; we plan to give some as a gift. We bought fresh Manila clams at our favorite local spot (The Jolly Oyster in Ventura Beach) and ran home to prepare the feast. The entire meal was ready in less than 30 minutes. We all sat outside and—per the instructions—I dumped the meal onto newspapers. Then we had ourselves a mighty fine feast! The experience was a 10, the flavors a 9.
Now that I’m in the know, I’d include much more tarragon—many tablespoonfuls. All in all, delicious, and so much fun to serve to 2 of my most discriminating—and delightful—testers!
Such a genius alternative when cooking at the beach isn’t an option. We had a few friends over and enjoyed a warm evening and a pot of fresh shellfish in our own backyard. Small pails around the table are great to discard the shells in.
Regarding the lobster cooking time, I was skeptical and didn’t want to risk overcooking the lobster. But I added the lobster on top of the potatoes and onions about 3 minutes before scattering the clams on top, as directed. Along with littleneck and cherrystone clams, I added 2 dozen mussels. The clams and mussels were open in 8 minutes. The lobster was cooked perfectly. Split the lobsters before serving so each person will get 1/2 or serve 1 lobster per person. I feel 1 to 2 cups white wine would be quite sufficient.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this New England clambake. Instead of trying to find a lobster, we doubled the amount of clams to 4 dozen. We found extremely fresh Manila clams for this recipe. I am not sure how someone would think that 48 small clams will feed 4 to 6 people. That is beyond optimistic. There were 3 of us, and those 48 clams just upped and disappeared before we knew it.
Now, the 2 pounds of baby potatoes was a lot for the 3 of us. I can see that amount feeding 4 to 6 people. We did have some potatoes left over, as well as 3 pieces of the quartered corn. I cut the corn off of the cob, cut the potatoes into chunks, and made a very nice hash the next day. Our friend thought that sausage might be nice addition to the dish. I would think that chouriço, linguiça, or dry-cured smoked Spanish chorizo, like David uses in his http://leitesculinaria.com/35830/recipes-clams-sausage-cataplana.html would be wonderful.
I did not make my own Old Bay Seasoning. I had a sample package of Old Bay and, not being a fan of the flavors, I chose to use that instead of having even more of something that I don’t particularly like sitting around the house. I do keep trying to like the stuff, thinking that perhaps another chance would yield a different result. In this case it didn’t. I will make this dish again, but will come up with something to use in place of the Old Bay’s.