This grill-top clambake makes for about the easiest dinner party I can think of. I offer side dishes here, but the truth is, with potatoes, corn on the cob, and tons of seafood, it can also be hearty meal in itself. My favorite grill to use for a clambake is a simple kettle grill. I like the Americana aspect of these grills, which suits my cooking style, and this feast specifically. If you have another type of charcoal grill, you certainly don’t need to go out and buy a kettle grill just for this. You could also use a gas grill. You’ll get the same results, it just won’t be as much of an adventure.
Ingredients 4 medium sweet yellow onions (Vidalia, Maui, Walla Walla or Spanish onion)
10 pounds fresh seaweed (preferably rockweed), thawed if frozen, rinsed if sandy or muddy 2 fresh Dungeness crabs, about 1½ pounds each, cut in half 2 artichoke 5 small potatoes (preferably white rose; about 4 ounces each) 1 pounds fresh (Mexican) chorizo links 2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed and purged (see Purging Clams, page 000) 12 U-15 shrimp (also called, “jumbo shrimp,” preferably with heads and tails intact) 2-4 ears of Hog-Tied Corn on the Cob 1 cup Roasted Garlic Thyme Butter melted 1 cups Dill Aioli ; or store-bought mayonnaise) Crusty baguettes
Directions Fire up a charcoal or gas grill. When the coals are red in the center with ash around them, the fire is ready. If you are using a charcoal grill, spread the coals into an even layer. Meanwhile, peel off the outer paper layer of the onion if its loose and cut an X through the core, cutting only a quarter way through the onion; this helps them cook throughout. Remove tough outer leaves from the artichokes. Trim and discard the fibrous end of the stem, and lop off the top to the second row, or about an inch from the tip. When the coals are ready, place a thick layer of seaweed (about half of the seaweed) to cover the grill grates. Lay the crabs in the center of the seaweed bed and surround it with the corn. Arrange the artichokes, onions, potatoes, and chorizo over and around the crab and corn, reserving one potato as a tester. Scatter the clams and shrimp over the top and cover with the remaining seaweed. Place the reserved potato on top of the seaweed and close the lid on the grill or close the cover and cook the clambake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the potato is tender when pierced with a knife. (To test for doneness, open the grill, being careful of any steam that will arise; poke the potato with something sharp to see if it is tender. If not, close the grill and cook the clambake for another 5 minutes before testing the potato again.) To serve, discard the top layer of seaweed. If you are working on a charcoal grill, close the grill grates at the bottom of the grill so the fire doesn’t kick back up. Have your guests come to the grill to take off whatever they want. Serve the melted butter, aioli, and bread on the tables.
Hog-Tied Corn on the Cob For this corn on the cob, I tie back the outer husks to create a handle and slather the corn with butter, which melts onto the corn as it cooks. If you wanted to make this corn on an occasion other than the clambake, just follow the same instructions and throw it on the grill just until the butter melts. You barely need to cook fresh corn.
Ingredients 4 ears fresh corn on the cob, husks on
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) Garlic-Herb Butter, or as needed, softened
Directions Remove the outermost husks from each ear of corn, leaving the inner husks attached. Strip away the silks and discard them. Pull back the remaining husks, leaving them attached, to expose the corn kernels, and rub each ear of corn liberally with butter (2 or more tablespoons per ear).
Pull the husks back up around the corn to enclose the butter and use a six-inch piece of kitchen string to tie a knot at the top of each ear to close it shut. Place the corn in the refrigerator or in a cooler with ice until you are ready to cook it, so the butter doesn’t melt.
Roasted Garlic Butter
Makes 1/2 cup.
Ingredients 5 garlic cloves, skins on 1 teaspoon olive oil 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1 teaspoons kosher salt
Directions Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the woody ends off the garlic cloves if necessary. Put the garlic in a doubled sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with the olive oil. Fold the foil shut to keep all the oil and put the foil parcel in a baking dish. Roast the garlic for about 50 minutes, until it is very tender. Remove the garlic from the oven and set aside until it’s cool enough to touch. Open the parcel and remove and discard the outer skins of the garlic and roughly chop the garlic. Combine the butter, thyme, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed to thoroughly combine. Add the garlic and mix it in. Refrigerate the butter in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.