Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tony's New England Clam Bake

My cousin, Beth, sent me this info, by request:

New England Clambake
Suggested Supplies, Food and Procedures

Long handle shovels
Long handle rakes
Sturdy Gloves
Paper Bag or mesh netting
Water supply


Shell fish
Sweet corn


Four racks.

Supplies:          16   2 ft lengths of 2” x 6’ boards

4     2 ft x 2 ft  pieces of  ½” chicken wire.



Rope (sisal or other natural fiber)

Make four box frames by connecting the 2 ft lengths

Attach the wire to what will become the bottom side of the box frame.

Handles:  Drill two sets of holes on opposite sides of the box and feed rope through the holes.  Knot the ends.

Site Preparation

Dig a shallow (9 inch) pit to dimensions that will contain the firewood (a bit larger than rack size).

Line the pit with the rocks,  stack the firewood onto rocks and burn. Occasionally, lift the rocks to the upper surface and top-off with more wood to maintain heat. Burn the wood to heat the rocks for approximately 2 and ½ hours and then allow fire to burn out for ½ hour. This is a good time to prepare food for racks and soak canvas in (sea) water. A few buckets of water or a hose is easier to handle than carrying a large wet canvas.

Preparation of food for loading racks:

Lobsters (rubber bands removed from claws) for first rack. Bottom of stack

Shellfish for second rack.

Corn for third rack.

Bag of Fish, Sausage and Onion for fourth rack. Fish should be wrapped separately in cheesecloth or in a paper bag to prevent splitting/separating .

Potatoes into fifth rack (top of stack). Remember: potatoes take the most time and may need to be cut in half.

Preparation for loading racks onto heated rocks/rockweed:

Stack loaded racks a short distance from the windward side of the pit. Wet canvases are best placed to windward also, a short distance from the loaded racks.


Pull rocks from fire and clear out all coals. Any remaining coals will impart a smoky taste, this taste is optional and personal.

Replace rocks into pit.

Cover hot rocks with rockweed.

Loading of racks onto heated rocks/seaweed:

Load Potatoes first, Bagged Fish second, Corn and Shellfish in that order.

DO NOT LOAD LOBSTERS ONTO ROCKS/ROCKWEED AT THIS TIME. This is to avoid overcooking while people are eating.

Cover with canvases, seal all edges with logs to maintain heat, the canvas will billow up.

After 20 minutes uncover and serve only the Shellfish.

Cover remaining racks back up immediately, to maintain heat.

After 20 minutes uncover and serve Bagged Fish, Sausage and Onion, Corn and Potatoes.

At this time put Lobster rack on rocks/rockweed and recover with canvases and tarp. Allow Lobster to cook for 20 minutes, uncover lobster rack, serve and enjoy.



Firewood: Enough to heat the rocks for approximately 2 and 1/2  hours. Starter wood and hardwood.

Rocks: DRY! Wet rocks can dangerously explode. Approximately football or cannon ball size which can be lifted with the shovels and will maintain heat. Enough to exceed the dimensions of the racks.

Racks:  Usually wooden with a wire bottom, Rope handles are optional. Each 24 inch square rack will accommodate food for approximately 40 people.

Rockweed: Rockweed with the small water-holding pods is available at Barrington and Warren River Bridge locations. Enough to cover rocks to a height of 12 or more inches. Most easily gathered at or one hour before low tide. Rockweed can also “top off” the racks of food.

Canvas:  Large enough to cover the stacked racks w/ excess amount for sealing to hold in steam.       Canvas will contain the steam so it is necessary to have at least 3 layers plus a tarp.

Two long handle shovels. For lifting and moving hot rocks and wood.

2 long handle rakes. For lifting and moving hot rocks and hot wood.

Sturdy Gloves. For lifting and moving wood and racks.

Sturdy high quality plates are essential for the three stages of food servings (Shellfish, Vegetables and bagged items, Lobster).

Water hose for emergency.


Potatoes need more heat than any other item so small Potatoes are advisable. Good choices: Red Bliss/ New potatoes, New gourmet.

Paper Bag or mesh netting to hold:

            Fish: Good choices: Cod, Haddock, …Wrap in cheesecloth and place in bag.

            Sausage: Good choices: Linguica, Bratwurst … place in bag.

            Onion: Good choices:Vidalia, Spanish, White, Yellow Cut in half, peel and place in bag.

Shell fish: Mussels, Soft shell steamers. Steamers are usually about three times more expensive than Mussels.

Sweet corn: Shucked

Lobster: Chick or larger.

Butter: Melted


Approximate amounts of food per person.

Lobster -1 1/4 -1 1/2 lb.

Mussels - 1/3 lb.

Soft-shell steamers - 1/3 lb.

Fish – ¼ lb.

Sausage – ¼ lb.

Corn – 1 each

Onion – 1 each, 3 onions per lb.

Potatoes – 1 each, 3 potatoes per lb.

No comments:

Post a Comment