Backyard Clam Bake
Great idea for family fun - and it's delicious - consider it a stay-cation!
Clambake is a misleading term, since in reality you actually steam the items.
Traditionally you would steam chicken along with the clams, but that is optional.
Any combination of shellfish (crab legs, clams, mussels, lobster)
Chicken and/or sausage (optional)
Choice of seasonings
Step 1: Set up your steamer pot (see “Steamer/Cooking Tips)” if using one, or follow the instructions on your propane steamer pot). Add 1 pint of water if using charcoal,
1 ½ pints if using propane.
Step 2: Season chicken to your liking, add to steamer basket with seafood - clams, mussels,
oysters, clams, lobster, potatoes, and onions. Put steamer basket in pot. Put lid on top, DO NOT REMOVE!!!!
Step 3: 45 minutes or so after steam starts to escape the pot, check the potatoes and chicken.
Carefully remove them if done. Brown chicken in pan or grill for a more crispy skin.
Step 4: Turn down heat, or remove some coals. Add corn, lobster, crab legs. If cooking live lobsters, place on top of steamer contents OR steam separately. Check after 20 minutes. Contents will be done when clams are open, corn is tender and lobster is red or the flesh opaque.
Step 5: When done, remove strainer and place contents on a platter or newspaper on a table.
Serve with sides of choice and condiment tray!
We recommend that you use natural lump charcoal. It starts faster and burns hotter than briquettes, and we think you’ll be happier with the results.
Don’t use a wood fire! It will damage the steamer (which costs you money!) and it won’t do a good job of cooking your bake (which will make your guests grouchy).
Don’t use your gas barbecue grill. It probably won’t provide enough of a concentrated heat source to cook your bake properly.
Pick a spot to set up your cooking operation
Choose a spot that's not too close and not too far away from where your guests will be congregating. Use some building blocks or bricks to make a stand to hold the steamer a foot or so off the ground. A triangular shaped stand works well - providing a sturdy base and good heat concentration. Add your charcoal and fire it up!
Your stand is built, your steamer is ready, and your charcoal is hot (make sure the flames have burnt down and the charcoal is white with a nice red glow). It’s cooking time!
First, carefully place your steamer on the stand.
Don’t let anyone lift the lid! You need all of that wonderful steam to cook your bake! If the steam escapes your clams might not open!
You should see steam coming out from under the lid 45 minutes or so after you start cooking. When you see the steam, your bake should cook for an additional 30-45 minutes.
Remember - any peeking will let heat and steam escape and will add to the cooking time required.
Cooking time will naturally vary depending on lots of factors - the size of your bake, the weather, and the temperature of your fire. But as a general rule, plan on 1.5-2 hours from the moment you set your steamer on the stand until serving time. You may need to add charcoal if conditions dictate.
Husk your corn. You’ll add it to the steamer later.
Most veteran clam-bakers like to brown their chicken after it cooks with the clams in the steamer. If that’s your plan, you can get your grill or broiler ready.
If your bake includes...
You can elect to cook them in the steamer or in a separate pot. If you’re using the steamer, just place lobsters directly on contents. Either way, you’ll want to steam them for 15-18 minutes.
Just put them directly on steamer contents for 10-15 minutes. Hint: corn and pre-cooked lobsters can be placed in steamer at the same time.
Place directly on steamer contents, and steam for 40 minutes or so if tails are frozen, 20 minutes or so if thawed. You can also cook the tails in a separate pot. Plate tails in a pot of cold, salted water, bring it to a boil, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Place directly on steamer contents. If the crab is frozen, steam for 20 minutes. If thawed, 10 minutes should do the trick. Hint: put the crab on a small piece of aluminum foil before you put it in the steamer. It keeps the crab together and prevents it from falling down into the other bake ingredients! You can do this with all additional items.