Clams, mussels, lobsters, and all the trimmings get steamed in a charcoal kettle grill.
by Sam Hayward
Summer is clambake season where I live on the coast of Maine. I've always loved the steamy, smoky, salty aroma and taste of these seaside feasts, but a traditional fire-pit-on-the-beach clambake is a laborious all-day affair. So instead, I fire up my kettle grill, layering fresh seaweed and shellfish over a charcoal fire. This way, I can simulate the wonderful sea-soaked flavor without the hassle of lugging everything to the beach and digging a fire pit.
This menu makes a classic clambake for four to six people, with all the trimmings—two kinds of clams, mussels, lobsters, chicken, sausages, corn, and potatoes. You'll need a standard 22- to 24-inch kettle grill to cook it while gas grills are handy for most cookouts, they won't give you the smoky fire you need here. The other crucial ingredients are hardwood chunks, to supplement your charcoal and create a slow-burning fire; and seaweed, which protects the food from the intense heat of the fire and creates the initial steam to start the cooking.
Beer Choices: Bring the beach home with this easy, fun clambake, and match its casual mood with light-bodied brews. To keep from competing with the delicate-flavored shellfish, stick with pale or golden-hued lagers and ales. If you find them, Northeastern microbrews will add a true taste of New England to your backyard beach party. Acadia Pale Ale from Maine, Harpoon Ale and Golden Lager from Massachusetts Bay Brewing are all worth seekign out. And you can't go wrong with Samuel Adams Boston Lager, which is widely available coast to coast. —Rosina Tinari Wilson
Photo: Mark Ferri
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