Preparing a New England Lobster Bake
Fourth of July is just around the corner (can you believe how quickly this year is going by?) and it's an excellent time for an old fashion New England Lobster Bake.
I asked my friend Ian Reardon from Sagamore Lobster about the history of The New England Clambake and how to prepare one at home without digging a big hole in the lawn.
Ian runs a small operation, but the lobsters are fresh off his father-in-law's lobster boat, their prices are competitive, and their service is excellent.
If you are thinking of lobsters this 4th of July, read my article, How to Buy Live Lobsters Without Getting Ripped Off.
How to Prepare a New England Lobster Bake This 4th of July
The New England Clam Bake dates back to the days of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Settlers witnessed Native Americans cooking clams over hot stones and seaweed; thus, the New England Clam Bake was born.
Clam Bakes have become a summer tradition in New England and all over the country. Now, with the Internet, you can have fresh Maine lobster shipped from New England anywhere in the United States.
Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to serve a New England Clam Bake? This article will tell you everything you need to know.
Selecting your Lobsters
Live Lobsters come in many sizes. The smallest lobsters are called chickens and weigh between 1 and 1.25 pounds. This lobster is perfect for people with small appetites or to be served alongside another main course.
For the average appetite, you will want to select a 1.25-pound "Quarter" or a 1.50-pound "Half" lobster. These lobsters are larger than the chick and provide a hearty meal.
Picking the Right Shellfish
There are many kinds of shellfish and several different types of clams. To be as authentic as possible, any shellfish will go great with lobster, but you must find New England steamer clams. Steamer clams are found along the coast of New England and even stretch into Canada.
The steamer clam is often confused with the little neck clam found in southern New England. The steamer clam is larger, has a softer shell, and tastes much better. About 1 pound of clams is recommended for each person.
Choosing Side Dishes
Clam Bakes and Lobster Bakes are most often served with corn on the cob and red bliss potatoes. Both can be steamed, boiled or grilled, similarly to the lobster and steamer clams.
How to Cook the Lobster
Clambakes have historically been cooked in holes dug in the sand with hot stones and seaweed. While this makes an excellent presentation, the truth is that our conventional ovens, pots, and pans do a much better job.
The recommended way to cook live lobsters is to steam them. You'll need a large pot, a steamer basket, and some salt. It is best to use sea salt harvested from the ocean, but regular table salt will work fine.
Fill the large pot with approximately one and ½ inches of water. Add one tablespoon of salt for every quart of water. Bring the water to a boil, and then place the lobster and the steamer basket inside the pot.
A one-pounder lobster should be cooked for approximately 12 minutes. A pound and a half lobster should be cooked for around 15 minutes. Check the pot periodically to ensure the water has not boiled off.
Add more water while the lobster is cooking if needed. Remove the lobster and pull off one of the small legs. Break open the leg and test the meat to ensure it is cooked.
How to Cook the Steamer Clams
Steamer clams need to be rinsed and scrubbed before cooking. Use a large pot of cold water and a vegetable brush to scrub and clean the clams.
Melt ¼ stick of butter for every 1lb of steamer clams in a small saucepan over low heat. In a large pot, combine ¾ cup water for every 1 lb of clams with the melted butter. Add clams. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and allow the clams to simmer for 5 minutes. When clams are cooked, they should open up. A clam that remains closed may be dead and should not be eaten.
Remove clams with a slotted spoon and place them in serving bowls. Pour the butter and water mixture into small serving dishes as they make a great sauce to dip your clams in.
How to Serve a New England Lobster Bake
An authentic lobster bake should be served outside to enjoy the summer weather and because lobster can be rather messy.
Place the lobsters and steamers on a large plate. Serve the potatoes and corn in separate bowls. Melt approximately ¼ of a stick of butter for each person to dip their lobster meat in.
The clams can be dipped in the mixture saved when the clams are cooked. Gather your family and friend and enjoy your authentic New England Lobster Bake.
Some of My Favorite Seafood Recipes
- How to Bake Salmon or Slow Bake Salmon
- Salmon Curry with Coconut Miso Recipe
- Grilled Salmon Delight: Perfectly Cooked Catch of the Day
- Everything You Need to Know About Ceviche
- Roasted Cod with Potatoes and Fennel Recipe
- Classic Tuna Casserole with Dill Recipe
- Shrimp Sauce Recipe
- Shrimp and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe