Citizens, October has been one of my busiest months ever and your beloved Dictator has been slacking. Time to get back into my normal posting rhythm – and to celebrate, I’ll be giving you *3* recipes today!
Having gone to college in Massachusetts and lived in Connecticut for many years, I consider myself a connoisseur of the true New England clambake. The kind that involves an entire day of work amongst several dozen friends, lots of beer, incredible food and a sunset that will make you weep for its ruddy glory.
Most clambake recipes now involve a pot and an oven.
Even many dyed-in-the-wool New Englanders don’t know how to do a proper beach clambake. Few realize you need rocks – a LOT of them – to help the fire to achieve inferno-level radiant heat. Even fewer know you MUST use rockweed as the seaweed of choice. It has tiny bladders filled with seawater that pop and add steam to the cooking process.
I will show you, my worthy Citizens, the TRUE path to culinary glory!!! My version of the classic is staunchly New England, with a detour or two into California and the Pacific Northwest.
A clambake is pretty much an all-day affair, so bring along a midday snack and plenty of beverages. You will also need tons of butter, bread or rolls, salt, pepper, Tabasco and spicy mustard. For dessert, bring watermelon, cantaloupe, peaches, berries and other fresh fruits as well as homemade pies. In Maine, blueberry pie is pretty much mandatory.
Most public beaches prohibit fires, even if the clambake is on a private beach; ask the local fire, parks and health departments if any permits are required. Keep a fire extinguisher and a large bucket of seawater close by.
Avoid flooding your pit: Plan the clambake for low tide. To ensure the water table is low enough, dig a small, two-feet-deep test hole. If the hole is still dry after an hour, dig your pit.
Be sure to get the right-sized rocks: too small and they’ll lose their heat too quickly; too large, and they won’t heat through.
Don’t use just any seaweed: The pockets of water and air in rockweed create the necessary steam and flavor. Order it specifically from your fishmonger.
My recipe involves tons of fresh herbs, hot peppers and garlic, crabs (I live in California now and Dungenness crabs are fantastic!), and some Chorizo sausage as well as the classic Linguiça. My last trick – some fruitwood smoking chips for even more flavor!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
The Hirshon Clambake
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