I’m lucky enough to call Gray Malin a very close friend and one day recently, while talking about his work, I told him that I’d love to throw him a dinner party to celebrate. Ideally in the summer. Something beachy. A clambake was born! This recipe has been tested, tasted, and I’m salivating just writing this. Cold beers go well with this, but I’m partial to wine pairings and I’ve found that vinho verde, verdejo, and Provencal rose have all gone well. It also goes really well with a homemade blueberry pie.
I also want to stress how easy this is. It may look intimidating, but I promise you’ll do this once and never look back. It’s a fantastic display, incredible flavors, and all-around fun. Like Gray! My fantastic, incredible, all-around fun friend.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 450g small potatoes (red or white)
- 4 corn cobs, cut in half
- 450g kielbasa (optional)
- 1 1/2 lbs prawns / shrimp
- 2 lbs clams
- 1 lb mussels
- 1 lobster or 2-3 crab legs
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Fresh parsley, rough chopped
You’ll need a large stockpot that can fit everything in it with the lid tightly closed. Before you begin, make sure you’ve got that!
In the stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the onions. Caramelize the onions, stirring them every so often to make sure they’re not sticking or getting too brown or burnt. This can take longer than expected, but brings major flavor.
When the onions are caramelized (brown and kind of gooey looking), turn the heat to low and start piling the rest of the ingredients on top in the following order: potatoes on bottom, then the sausage or kielbasa (if using), corn cobs, prawns, clams, mussels, and the lobster or crab on top.
In a medium bowl, combine the wine, salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Give it a quick stir to combine and then pour over everything that you piled in the stockpot. (Mixing it together first just gives it a better chance of evenly seasoning everything in the pot. You can’t exactly stir it...)
Put the lid onto the stockpot and make sure it’s tightly closed. Let the clambake steam over medium heat for about 20-25 minutes. Check to see if the clams and mussels have all opened. If so, it’s done! If not, check every five minutes until they’re nearly all open. (There will likely be at least 1 or 2 stubborn shells that just don’t open.)
With a large slotted spoon and/or tongs, remove all of the ingredients from the stockpot and transfer to a large bowl, keeping most of the liquid in the pot.
Bring the cooking liquid to a simmer over medium heat. Add the butter and juice of half a lemon, or to taste. Reduce the liquid until it’s to your preferred consistency for a dipping sauce, about 10 minutes. When it’s reduced enough, remove from heat and stir in parsley.
Ceremoniously dump the clambake down the center of a large table, making sure there’s a mix of sausage, corn, potatoes, and shellfish within everyone’s reach. Add a hand-torn baguette or two for dipping and sopping up sauce. Serve the sauce in a couple of small bowls placed down the length of the table. Make sure to have a few empty bowls around the table for discarding shells.
Tip: Line your chosen dining table with a plastic tarp, taped to the sides. Then cover the tarp with a tablecloth and line the center of the tablecloth with newspapers. This way the juices won’t seep through the fabric and onto your table.