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How To Host a Classic Clambake

Get out the lobster crackers and your biggest pot for a festive, seaside
supper, no matter where you are.


This year, lobsters are plentiful, so I've been having fun thinking of new ways to cook everyone's favorite crustacean, whether on the grill, in a delicately seasoned pasta sauce, or simply steamed and chopped for a decadent lunchtime lobster roll. When it comes to entertaining, though, it's time to go old-school with steamed lobsters, an old-fashioned clambake, and all the
trimmings.
Traditionally, a clambake—a feast of lobster, clams, sausage, potatoes, and corn—is all cooked together in a stone-lined pit dug in the sand. A fire heats the rocks, and once it has burned down to embers, layers of seaweed and shellfish go on top and then get covered with a tarp or dampened burlap to trap the heat and steam. It's a complicated operation that involves permits and shovels, and while it's impressive, it's also hard to control the cooking times with a great deal of precision.
I prefer to steam the lobsters separately to ensure that they don't overcook for even a minute, and serve it with an herbed aioli. While they steam I cook the clams, sausage, and veggies together in a big pot, adding the ingredients from the longest to the quickest cooking, so everything comes out done to perfection. The broth in the pot may be the best part: briny, smoky from the sausage, infused with butter—just the thing to dip the clams in or even hunks of good bread. Pass around a platter of crostini while the shellfish is working, open a crisp white, and you have yourself a world-class seafood feast, no beach required. For dessert? A New Orleans-meets-Italy ice cream sundae you'll want to make all year long.

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