Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jersey Shore Clambake

First of all, let's get one thing straight. If you're from New Jersey or the Philadelphia area, you're going "down the shore," NOT "to the beach." And shore towns in Jersey can vary in character from places that are noted for flashy boardwalk rides (Seaside Heights before Superstorm Sandy) --
photo from Jerseyboardwalk.com

 to quiet shore towns with manicured lawns and multi-million dollar McMansions (Spring Lake) --

Photo by Ron DeCicco 

 to shore towns whose streets are lined with old-fashioned "gingerbread" Victorian homes (Cape May).
photo from www.thenewestvegetable.com
But no matter where you go along the Jersey shore, you'll find great local seafood (OK, so the shrimp aren't caught here) - perfect for a summer clambake.  We were lucky enough to be invited to one such event at the lovely seaside home of friends - Mary Ellen and Jim -  in Pt. Pleasant.  
The lobster-themed table setting was a hint at the feast to come. 
Take a closer look at the beautiful, embroidered napkins. 
We arrived in time to see the whole process, which starts with an assortment of seafood and small potatoes. The recipe, from Ina Garten, also calls for kielbasa. Mary Ellen left it out and I was glad she did, because I'm not fond of the smoky taste of the sausage either. Throw in corn in you like, but you really don't need it. 
Don't forget the lobsters -- quick, before they get away.

The recipe starts out with a sauté of leeks and onions in good olive oil. Make sure you've got a huge pot to contain all the layers. First the potatoes, then the clams. 
 Pile on the mussels and shrimp next.
 Finish with the lobsters, pour in some dry white wine and place a lid on top (maybe with a weight as well, to keep those frisky crustaceons from clawing their way out).
 After everything is cooked, remove the lobsters and separate the tail and claws from the main body. Jim snapped off the claws and snipped their tips with kitchen shears to allow water and steam to escape, 
You could tell he'd done this many times before, expertly slicing the tails in half before placing them on the platters with the rest of the seafood and potatoes. 
 There were four of us at the table, but more than enough food for at least two more. This is only one of the platters. No complaints here, as we dug in with gusto.
This mesmerizing view of the bay (their "back yard") only added to the enjoyment of the meal. I think I could happily eat hot dogs and beans with a view like this, but I sure was glad to be eating the clambake instead.
Thanks Mary Ellen and Jim, for a fun night of terrific food and friendship.
See you "down the shore."

Kitchen Clambake
Recipe from Ina Garten
printable recipe here

1 1/2 pounds kielbasa
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, well cleaned (2 leeks, white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (red or white)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, in the shell
3 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters
2 cups good dry white wine

Slice the kielbasa diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute the onions and leeks in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 16 to 20 quart stockpot over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.

Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order: first the potatoes, salt, and pepper; then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open. Remove the lobsters to a wooden board, cut them up, and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being very careful to avoid any sand in the bottom.

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Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Magnficent! I'd love to taste this clambake.



Anonymous said...

Jersey pride!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Such a fun way to eat, love it. Great food, beautiful view and sharing with good friends, nothing better!

tri-oldman said...

Nothing better than walking the boards,having a slice and beer and plain watching the world go by

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

All my favorite foods! I could eat lobster every day if I was able! We just came back from a family vacation at the Outer Banks, NC, and one of our memorable meals there was a seafood steamer pot meal we cooked together that had clams, mussels, scallops, shrimps, crab legs. lobster,corn and red potatoes. It was a delicious feast!

Chiara Giglio said...

mi piacerebbe moltissimo mangiare quei piatti proprio lì ! Un abbraccio

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

What a lovely invitation to 'the shore' :) I love every component of that clam bake. Our next gourmet, hosting by friends, will be a lobster boil which is very similar except done in a huge pot over a fire outdoors. Delicious!

domenicacooks said...

Love our Garden State!

sississima said...

io adoro il pesce, sarei venuta volentieri a pranzo da te!! Un abbraccio SILVIA

daniela64 said...

Un piatto favoloso, voglio provare anch'io questa ricetta. un abbraccio Daniela.

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

Oh, would I love to be invited to a dinner like that. We don't do anything like that on the West Coast. Lobster is a rare treat here. Looks like a fun evening.

Claudia said...

Love Cape May! Used to go there "back in the day." Such a beautiful town. Also loving the clambake and must do this at least once - but sans lobster. Buying fresh lobster in MN is a car payment! What a summer-delicious post. This is something I need to read in January! A reminder that winter gives way to such sweetness.

Roz Corieri Paige said...

What a location and what a wonderful food experience . . . reminds of the "Lowcountry Boils" here in SC. Have a great weekend, Linda.

Mila said...

Adoro il pesce!!!!!