Monday, September 19, 2011

Clambake How To

We had a small clambake this past weekend.  I have to say it was a success, minus the clams, that's a story for you (see below).  The hub has had clambakes before but this is a first for me, lots of learning.  I'll share with you my adventures.  It's actually very simple and a lot cheaper than buying the bakes from a grocer or market.  Our cost was $15 a bake and $5 per extra dozen clams.  We were preparing 11 bakes with 11 extra dozen clams, for a total of 22 dozen.  $210 for everything including, serving ware!  We also did, bring your own drinks so we didn't have that extra cost.

So, about the clams...  We ordered them on Friday for pick up on Saturday morning at 10 a.m.  The hub received a phone call from the grocer at 10 a.m. stating that half our order was dead.  (You are to order live clams for clambakes in case you didn't know...)  So, the hub said that he would pick them up at noon, giving them time to re-do the order (cleaning and bagging).  Basically, they cleaned and bagged them too early (probably the night before) and they died before we could pick them up.  Well, the hub picked them up at noon and we baked them.  However, they were full of sand.  This is the first and last time we will pay for cleaning.  Next year, we will clean them ourselves.  We plan on making a phone call to complain.

Well, let's pretend that we cleaned them ourselves and they were good.  =)

Menu (per bake)
Clam Chowder see Voted Best Clam Chowder recipe
1 dozen clams
Sweet Potato
Corn on the Cob
Boneless, Skinless BBQ Chicken Breast

You will need a large steamer pot.  We were lucky enough to be able to borrow one from the hub's parents.

Prepare Clam Chowder Voted Best Clam Chowder 

Preparing the Clams
We bought little necks, they are smaller but the most tender.
1.  Put clams in cooler with cold water.
2.  Add pepper to water.  The clams will eat the pepper and expel the sand.  (Some people use cornmeal in the place of pepper.)
3.  After 20 minutes, pull out clams and drain water and sand (from the clams and the cooler).
4.  Repeat steps (1-3) at least 3 times, the more the better.
5.  Divide and bag before putting in steamer.

Preparing the Sweet Potatoes
Clean potatoes under running water with a scotch-brite pad.

Preparing the Corn
Husk corn and clean under water.

Preparing the Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1.  Soak chicken breasts in salt water, to draw out the blood.  (15-20 minutes is good enough)
2.  Give chicken a good rinse after the soaking.
3.  Trim off access fat and cut in half.  (I cut in half for faster cooking on the grill.)
4.  Set chicken aside until ready to cook.

1.  Fill with water to the bottom of the shelf of the steamer.
2.  Layer in your clams.
3.  Layer in the sweet potatoes.
4.  Top off with the corn.
5.  Turn on medium heat for an hour and a half.  All steamers may be slightly different and it depends on how much you are making.
6.  Check potatoes, once potatoes are fork tender, you can prepare to serve.  (See below.)  Time varies depending on the size of your bake but your sweet potatoes will be your best judge of when the bake is ready to serve.

Begin Serving
1.  Prepare the serving table:
Put out plasticware, plastic plates, plastic bowls, napkins (I use paper towels, it's much easier, I never buy napkins), rolls, cups for butter, half pans for serving corn and potatoes, stock pot for clams, margarine/butter for corn/rolls, salt and pepper.
2.  Begin cooking BBQ Chicken when potatoes are nearly done.  I cut the chicken breasts in half to cook more quickly on the grill.
3.  Reheat your chowder and serve at the same time that the chicken is cooking.  I bought nice, sturdy plastic bowls for the chowder.
4.  Melt butter for clams and put in a bowl with lid and accompany with a ladle.  I put out small plastic rocks glasses to put the melted butter in.
5.  Take corn out of steamer and put in half pan for serving.
6.  Take sweet potatoes out of steamer and put in half pans for serving.
7.  Take clams out of steamer and put in stock pot for serving.
8.  Tell everyone to line up and dig in!

I quit taking pictures once things got busy, it's difficult to remember when you have guests and things to do!  Sorry!

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