An Event to Remember:
Our Memorial Day Weekend Lobster Clambake
Looking back, some of our fondest memories were those special family picnics where we had our infamous lobster clambake events. Our family couldn’t wait until that day arrived. Those days were a long time ago, however, we decided to reinvigorate the memories all over again at the lake for the next generation grandchildren. Although this takes an investment of time, it is well worth the experience of doing the clambake as an overall family.
We want to share with you the steps we took over Memorial Day Weekend, as well as any shortcuts if you are more limited on time. We had a blast doing it, especially seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces, including the grandchildren. These are the times we will look back on and always remember.
The event and preparations took place at the lake house, but you can do this in your fire pit at your preferred location.
What you need to get ahead of time
For the fire pit:
If you don’t have a fire pit, you will need to prepare one. Our pit was 3 feet deep and about 4 feet wide with layered stones protecting the sides and in a safe location. Our fire pit was built for safety.
- Gather several 6 – 8” diameter field stones to put inside the fire pit at the base
- Acquire firewood – hard wood (enough that will sustain a four hour fire)
- Gather kindling for the fire
- Two bushels of Rockweed seaweed (We went to our local, specialty seafood place, called Seafood Unlimited, and they brought it in from Maine. You can get away with 1.5 bushels.)
For the clambake meal:
- Clambake boiling bags (We got ours from Amazon – CM 24″ Clam Bake, Seafood, Shellfish Boiling Bags)
- Seafood forks, lobster crab crackers for the live lobsters, and crab Bibs (bibs optional for kids)
- Food per person,
o Spicy sausage (We used andouille – enough for each person)
o 1 ½ lb., live lobster (get one day ahead of time) and store in refrigerator under moist newspaper until ready to cook (We ordered from The Lobster Guy online – excellent.)
- Shortcut: a) you can choose to only do clams, potatoes, corn and / or sausage or, b) buy lobster tails, thaw and use those instead of a full lobster
o 25 littleneck clams (We went to our local, specialty seafood place, called Seafood Unlimited, and they brought it in from the Connecticut Coast.)
o 2 smaller Yukon gold potatoes, red potatoes or other potatoes
o 1 corn on the cobb per person
What you need to do the day of the lobster clambake
Prep the food in the clambake bags
- Rinse and scrub thoroughly any sand on the clams.
- Shuck the corn. For each ear of corn, cut in half and season with salt, pepper and butter and wrap in foil.
- Put the littleneck clams, potatoes and corn (covered in foil) into the clambake boiling bag and knot the top of it. Do this for the number of expected people and place in refrigerator until ready.
- Put the sausage links in foil within their own boiling bags and knot. We did not cut up the sausage ahead of time, just put each rolled up link in its own bag. Place in refrigerator until ready.
- Shortcut: You can also buy clambake packages that have all the fixings in a head of time. We assembled our bags ourselves. The Lobster Guy online sells them already assembled.
Prep the fire pit
- Place field stones at the bottom of the fire pit (can be done beforehand) in one or one and half layers
- Put the kindling on and light the fire
- Then stack portions of the firewood in the fire pit, and then continue to layer wood onto the fire throughout the four hours
Burn intensely for four hours using the hard, split wood. After four hours, let the fire burn down to embers. The rocks are hot enough when a splash of water sizzles and evaporates immediately.
Cook the food
- After fire has burned for four hours and hot enough, place a layer of seaweed on 3 inches thick.
- Place the live lobsters down first on top of seaweed
- Then put the boiling bags containing clams, potatoes and corn
- Then put the boiling bags containing the sausage links
- Cover with an additional layer of seaweed of about 3 inches thick
- Then cover with a heavy-duty canvas (We added an optional thermometer to keep track of the temperature. Our temperature reached about 350 degrees Fahrenheit towards the end of the two hours.)
- Let it bake and steam for 2 hours, uncover (We used a rake to remove portions of the seaweed.)
Set the table
Take everything out and enjoy!
We served Boundary Breaks Riesling Grand and Hermann J. Wiemer Dry Riesling with the lobster clam bake. Both are exceptional wines from the Finger Lakes region in New York.
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