D and I are big fans of another alternative clam bake recipe from Everyday Food. That one you do on the grill. I had never done one of the stove top versions, but I’ve always been intrigued and maybe just a little scared. Why? Well, I don’t have one of those enormous New England lobster boiling, enamel coated, monstrosity pots that these recipes seem to call for. I’ve got the biggest stock pot in the Cusinart set of stainless steel pots and pans that we got for our wedding 10 years ago. So I didn’t want to run into a situation where there isn’t enough room for the shrimp and clams and this becomes a potato and corn bake. I’ve also been reticent because we here in the middle of the country don’t so much have access to clams. I surely didn’t want to buy canned clams (ew!!!!!), and I wasn’t sure if I could find fresh ones at any of my usual grocery stores. This was not the weekend for a special trip to a fancy grocery store.
My fears were, luckily, unfounded. The stock pot was a fine size. And the frozen clams that D found at our normal grocery store (No, not Aldi) were just fine. You were supposed to cook them from frozen, which is great because I didn’t have to thaw clams in the fridge (ew again!!!), but it did cause a problem for the shrimp. The clams are the second to last thing to go in. The shrimp are last. The recipe has you add the shrimp, turn off the heat, then open the lid back up in three minutes to reveal perfectly cooked shrimp. I opened the lid after maybe six minutes (distracted) and found some 1/8 cooked shrimp. I put them back on the heat and gave them a few minutes to finish cooking. They tasted great. Here’s what I think happened: the recipe assumes that you have fresh clams and I used frozen ones. When I cooked the frozen clams, I brought the clams up to the right temperature, but in doing so managed to bring the temperature of the entire pot way down. So when I added those shrimp to what should have been a warm and steamy environment, it was probably only lukewarm and moderately steamy. Hence, undercooked shrimp (one more time: ew!!!!). So if you’re cooking with anything but fresh clams, keep the pot on the heat for the shrimp step.
Oh, the cheesy chive bread? It was ok. I made it garlic bread instead because I couldn’t find chives. With the corn and the potatoes in the clambake, the bread wasn’t really necessary. It was kind of nice for sopping. I will say that buying a loaf a shade less than crusty is probably the way to go. Hacking through that giant, hard loaf to make the cuts in the loaf was grueling. All that fuss for some garlic bread? C’mon.
B also tells me that these clambakes ordinarily have sausage. How this midwestern girl missed out on an opportunity to eat sausage is kind of mind-boggling. As B noted, what we lack in clams, we make up for in sausage. That sounded bad. Never mind.
Enjoy the swingin’ clambake!