Saturday, August 1, 2009

Have Your Own Connecticut Clambakes

By Sherry Shantel

With Connecticut clambakes, seafood parties can be great. Besides being the tasty food they are, clambakes can also refer to an outdoors gathering of people entertained by luscious and healthy seafood meals with fresh vegetables. It can be adapted into any formal or informal event - family reunion, corporate meeting, wedding party, or just a romantic dinner for two.

As it is a hands-on event, the clambake would be a great place to meet new friends because of its casual atmosphere. With summer as the perfect time to enjoy the beach and delicious seafood treats, clambakes are a whole lot of fun!

Traditionally, clambakes were prepared over a fire on the beach. But since beach fires are now prohibited, today's clambakes are usually cooked over a propane burner which is undeniably more efficient. Though it's quite the modern method, the traditional atmosphere still exists.

Clambake may contain various foods. While some people may want to start off with quahogs (hard shelled clams), others prefer steamers (soft shelled clams) dipped in butter with a salty broth. Hosts can even serve shrimp, clam chowder and mussels. Some of the more traditional accompaniments include corn on the cob, salads, potatoes, slaws, and cornbread. How about having ice cream for dessert? With so many options to have your clambake as delicious and unique as possible, never forget to include lobster bisque, which is of course, the main dish.

The original clambake method is prepared over a pit along the coast that is two or three feet deep. The pit is then lined with rocks and a large fire that would reach 400 degrees F is set on top of these rocks. Wet seaweeds are then lined on the rocks, layered with potatoes, corn in the husk, and even more seaweeds. The pit is then lined with a tarpaulin which is weighted down with rocks. The clambake is then steamed for about three hours.

If you want a simpler method, just have the shellfish and accompaniments steamed on a stovetop. You can put rocks in a large metal washtub across a couple of burners on the stovetop and layer it with clams and seaweed. You can then pour in a couple of gallons of seawater until it boils. Steam the clambake for twenty minutes.

But if you think seawater and seaweed are making things complicated, how about having a clambake on your grill over hot coals? This way, it will help boil the live lobster and potatoes first as they take the longest time to cook. The clams and corn will be cooked through the grill's heat.

For a much simpler version of preparing Connecticut clambakes, just place the clams in a pot add in corn and chorizo and some aromatics such as saffron and shallots. Steam it until the clams open. Since following the traditional clambake cooking method is too laborious, many people opt for the simplest technique. What's really important is that you and your guests will have a fun and healthy time feasting on Connecticut clambakes.

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