Campfire Cooking | Clambakes

Plan a bonfire and a traditional clambake

The Clambake is a traditional New England method of cooking seafood. Clambakes are generally held on special occasions, but they can certainly become an event in and of themselves. This picnic-style feast is an all day project for the hosts, but it is a great way to share fresh seafood for friends and family.

A traditional clambake is held on the beach, but if fires are not allowed on the beach, or if you don't want to hold the event at the beach, it can be modified to be an event at home. To hold you clambake you will need to gather plenty of seafood, bring plenty of cold drinks and prepare for a good time.

The traditional clambake menu:

  • lobster
  • mussels
  • crabs
  • sausage
  • potatoes
  • onions
  • corn-on-the-cob

Make sure your seafood is fresh and clean.

Other Needs

  • Canvas tarp - you will also want to make sure you have a large piece of canvas tarp, which will be used to cover the food. When you get to the beach you will want to thoroughly soak the canvas in seawater.

Prepare In Advance

 You can prepare the corn by removing both the silk and the husks. To protect the corn form the heat you can peel back the husk to remove the silk, then replace the husk. The corns husk will protect the ear of corn during the cooking process.

On the day of the clambake

Start by gathering fresh seaweed. The seaweed is essential in the cooking and steaming process of the clambake. The best type of seaweed is rockweed, but other types can work. Store the seaweed in a large container with plenty of fresh sea water to keep the seaweed fresh. You will also need to gather some medium sized round stones. These stones are a key part of the cooking process as well. Be careful not to collect wet beach stones, these have been known to explode when heated in the fire, it may be a good idea to gather your stones from a different location entirely.

Once you have the seaweed and stones you will want to dig a fire pit on the beach. Place the stones in the bottom of the pit and start a wood fire on top of the stones. You will want to allow the fire to burn for about two hours or until the stones are red hot. Once this ideal temperature is reached you want the fire to die down. After the fire has died you will want to quickly start the cooking process.

First place a thick layer of seaweed over the stones. Then place a layer of food over the seaweed. Continue to layer seaweed and food, finish with a layer of seaweed. Finally, cover the entire mound with the wet canvas, and weigh down with rocks. Basically the hot stones will release heat creating steam from the wet seaweed, which cooks your food. The wet canvas traps the steam to aid the cooking and it is wet to stop it from catching fire.

Allow the food to cook for a few hours until everything is cooked through. Serve hot with plenty of melted butter and cold drinks.

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