We love a good old-fashioned seaside feast when the time is right. But we wondered: Is it possible to recreate that smoky, salty goodness from the comfort of a home kitchen? How can we translate all the charm and flavor of the seashore, without the sea?
In the noble name of research, we trooped out to the beach on a recent summer morning to experience the glory of clambaking firsthand. We soaked up the sights, smells, and sounds of the real thing, and then got straight to work the next morning designing an at-home version that would do it justice.
We included some traditional clambake ingredients, and some Northwest favorites (like Dungeness crab instead of lobster), but you can use any ingredients that will fit inside a Dutch oven. We mimicked the smoky beach fire with toasted wood chips, and used rehydrated kombu for a healthy dose of brine. The biggest breakthrough in the development process was the decision to lay rocks inside the cast iron cookware. We found that if you pile all the food inside the pot, it will cook from the outside-in, leaving the interior undercooked, and the exterior overcooked. At first, we added rocks simply to help hold heat, which worked like a charm, but it didn’t help cook the interior and exterior ingredients more evenly. On our last trial, we decided to try piling the rocks in the center, so we could store heat in the middle of the pot. This way, the food would cook evenly from the outside and inside of the pot. To our great pleasure and surprise, it worked incredibly well! (And we’ll definitely be using that technique to help other one-pot dishes cook evenly.)
Behold, the fruit of our labor—a beach clambake, hold the beach. Try it family-style, or elevate it into an elegant summer entrée with salty sea beans and raw geoduck. Can’t do that at the beach, now can you?
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