Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ever Done a Clambake?

MIL's birthday was last Wednesday.  We decided to host a dinner in her honor tonight.  I thought about the menu and considered making, from this month's Bon Appetit, Grilled Mustard Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta.  When I told a friend this he said...seems like a lot of work.  It did..and didn't.  He suggested a clambake, claiming it was an easy recipe that he did this past winter while ice fishing (oh, the joys of propane turkey fryers...portable AND easy to use).  I asked that he email me the recipe.

When I read it over, I'm like...I can do this.  So, it was decided.  A clambake.  Little did I know that there would be a run on clams in the south west metro area of Minnesota.  Can one have a clambake with out clams?  A _____bake?  I don't think so.  So, after church today, I headed out in search of little neck clams.  Don't get me wrong, I DID call around yesterday, checking to see who had clams in stock.  And I found a few places had what I needed, but when I called this morning, well, all of the sudden, it seems like Sunday was the day that EVERYONE wanted clams.  I called an additional 4 stores and ran into one (only to be disappointed).  Finally, my last three stops I scored:  60 clams at Cub, 20 at Rainbow and another 60 at Kowalskis.  And I was on my way home.

Funny enough, it really didn't take that much to put together.  I had the kids shucking corn, my middle daughter scrubbed the potatoesI cut up 3 different varieties of sausage:  smoked beef sausage, kielbasa, and andouille.  I sliced up onions.  I scrubbed the clams and put the on ice and I set the shrimp to defrosting in the colanderAll that was left was to put it all together.

MIL/FIL arrived with "the pot" and the turkey fryer and I put it all together.  The onion, potato, sausage, bay leaf were combined and put at the bottom of the pot, topped with Old Bay seasoning.  I then topped with 3 bottles of Guiness Stout.  Followed by 2 dozen small ears of corn, more Old Bay, 4 lbs of deveined, peel ON shrimp, more Old Bay, then about 120 little neck clams.  Lid on.  Burner on HIGH.

It cooked for about 30 minutes and when the clams opened it was done.  We strained the pot through a pillow case, keeping the broth to dip the clams and shrimp in.  We then dumped the entire pot (contained in the pillowcase) onto brown paper bags on the deck table, set out bowls of broth and melted butter, several loaves of crusty french bread.  SIL made a lovely caprese salad.  We had several bottles of white wine and we ATE.LIKE.KINGS. It was AWESOME.

Don't believe me?  A picture tells a thousand words.
The pot at the end of the table...that was NOT the cooling pot (not nearly big enough).  We used that to collect the broth, then use it to collect the shells.

My middle daughter and I made a blueberry-raspberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice-cream for dessert that was TDF. (all recipes from Real Simple with a few adaptations).

This was a first for me.  I usually need to try out a recipe first before making it for others.  But, I was assured, I could do this.  I did.  It was SO tasty.  I'll be doing it again.

Had you been here, you'd have thought you had stepped onto a beach in the North East...not a deck in Minnesota.

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