Despite just dipping our toes into fall, our days are still spent yearning for the seafood, laughter, and camaraderie of our carefree summer evenings. And yet, now, gatherings are scarce and fraught with what-ifs. Perhaps that’s exactly why, in recent days, I craved a quintessential New England lobster clambake at home. Miraculously, that craving perfectly coincided with Lobster Fest at Rouses’ Markets.
This post is generously sponsored by Rouses Markets. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal experience.
The New England Clambake
If you’re one of those people who live for slightly wild, laborious food experiences, the New England clambake in Cape Cod or coastal Maine is right up your alley. Ironically, despite growing up in Boston, my first true, traditional clambake happened right here on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Last October, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. We recruited some friends to come with us on a long weekend at the beach (it wasn’t difficult, as you can imagine). On our way to our little cottage, four lobsters rode shotgun, nestled comfortably in my lap. We dug a pit in the sand, lit a bonfire, and layered the coals with seawater-soaked banana leaves foraged from a friend’s backyard. We filled aluminum pans with clams, mussels, potatoes, corn, and links of local sausage, seasoned with melted butter, white wine, and herbs.
The pans of food I covered with aluminum foil to keep the precious warmth from escaping. We covered the whole pit with a wet canvas tarp, waited an hour, and crossed our fingers. Not trusting the lobsters to the overfull pans, I boiled them on the stovetop –ten minutes per pound– while the clams and mussels baked in the makeshift beach oven.
When we extricated those pans of luscious seafood, I nearly wept with joy. They were perfect. Each clam and mussel had opened, releasing its briny juice to bathe the sausage, corn, and potatoes. The lobsters were bright red and the meat buttery, tender, and perfectly cooked. It was a perfect meal, it’s funny that little did I know how much I would yearn for moments like those a year later.
How to do a clambake at home
No beach? No worries. When I discovered August was Lobsterfest at Rouses, I knew I had to replicate our fabulous feast at home, sans sand and waves. Lucky for you at home, you can pull this whole meal off successfully in a rimmed sheet pan (double it for a large group clambake at home). I would still boil or steam the lobsters because the last thing you want is the dry heat of the oven to suck the moisture out of that succulent meat.
For such an indulgent meal, it is pretty much hands-off, with the exception of the boiling of the lobsters. For those of you who desire a little less interaction with your food, Rouses’ will kindly steam the lobsters for you. Just call ahead and time the pickup so that they are still hot when you sit down to eat.
New England Lobster Clambake At Home
New England Lobster Clambake at home is a quintessential late summer meal made easy.
- 6 small 1 to 1 and 1/2 pound live lobsters
- 2-3 pounds mussels debearded and scrubbed
- 2-3 pounds littleneck clams scrubbed1 pound red or yellow potatoes
- 1 pound smoked sausage cajun or chorizo, cut into 3 inch pieces
- 3 ears corn each cut crosswise into 6 pieces
- 1/4 cup salted butter melted
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 sweet onion cut into wedges
- 2 lemons halved
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon seafood boil or Old Bay
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Melted butter and lemon wedges for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook potatoes until just cooked, about 10-13 minutes.
Stir in corn during the last 5 minutes of cooking time, remove corn and potatoes and bring pot back up to a boil.
In a small bowl, combine butter, garlic, Old Bay and thyme; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place potatoes, corn, mussels, clams, shrimp, chorizo, onion and lemons in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Stir in butter mixture and gently toss to combine.
Place into oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until all the mussels and clams have opened.
Meanwhile, place lobsters in pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove and plunge into a pot of ice water to stop the cooking process.
Pour seafood onto your largest serving platters and arrange lobsters. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, and served with melted butter and lemon if desired.
How to eat a whole lobster
If you’ve never eaten a whole lobster before, it’s honestly not as difficult as it looks. Make sure you have a good pair of lobster crackers or a mallet and don’t wear anything that needs to be dry-cleaned (I learned this the hard way).
- Start by twisting off both claws and crack each claw. My favorite part is claw meat, so don’t skimp with the pick.
- Unfurl and twist the tail off where it meets the body. Either cut or pick the tail meat out.
- Don’t skimp on the butter.
- There are tiny morsels of meat in the legs– don’t forget those!
We might be heading into fall, but don’t let the last joys of summer slip through your fingers without experiencing the succulence of butter-dipped lobster, ya hear?