We’re deep into the dog days of summer, and some North Shore traditions are going strong, like getting bit by greenheads, dipping into some icy sea water, and, of course, clambakes. Typically cooked and served outside in a big yard or at the beach, they’re a perfect socially distanced activity.
You don’t need to host a big party for a clambake—you can cook one up for just the family any old time. If you’re thinking of trying your hand at cooking a clambake one of these August weekends, check out the recipe below. Remember to buy ingredients locally when you can! And if you aren’t up to the culinary task yourself, trust it to one of the below North Shore establishments.
Want more? Check out Creating the Perfect Clambake with Woodman’s of Essex and Vinwood Caterers.
New England Clambake
1 cup cold water
2 cups dry white wine
2 1/2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade Old Bay Seasoning
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
6 lemons, halved or cut into wedges
1. In a ginormous 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.
3. Nestle the lobsters on the onion and potatoes, cover the pot again, and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add the clams and corn and continue to cook, still covered, until the clams have opened, 8 to 10 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If you happen to be doing your clambake in a pot that’s set on a rack over an open gril, go ahead and instead toss the corn and the cut lemon directly on the rack to impart a slight smokiness to the final dish.
5. Carefully remove the pot from the heat and drain the cooking liquid. Remove and discard any clams that haven’t opened.
6. 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 and dishes or small buckets so folks have a place to toss the spent shells. Don’t forget gobs of napkins.
Feeling like a take-out sort of night? These North Shore eateries offer clambakes to go, clambake kits, and other classic North Shore summer dishes.
Davio’s Lynnfield offers a classic clambake with all the bells and whistles: Maine Lobster, New England Clam Chowder, Little Neck Clams, local corn, baby creamer potatoes, and blueberry shortcake with vanilla ice cream, all for $65 per guest. Order it dine-in on their patio or order it to take back to your own patio!
The Essex staple has traditionally offered clambake catering for gatherings of all size. Now, you can order an already prepared “clambake to go” for up to fifteen guests. If you’d like to have more of a hand in the cooking, order one of their clambake kits with all the ingredients you’ll need plus their own clam chowder. It even ships anywhere in the continental U.S.
C&C Lobster offers clambakes to go year round, complete with homemade clam chowder and watermelon slices. Just call ahead at least 24 hours in advance, and pick up your clambake hot and ready to serve.
Ipswich Clam Bake
Bring the flavors of the North Shore to a small gathering with Ipswich Clam Bake’s party platters like their shrimp and lobster platter or seafood dip. Then, dream of future big summer parties—they offer a variety of clambake catering for large events.