Chef Karsten Hart shows how to host your own clam bake

You don’t have to be on the  beach — although that helps — to host your own clambake. Executive chef Karsten Hart of The Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I., has been the master and commander of some 30 clambakes in the last two years. And he knows his stuff: His seafoody to-do was voted Rhode Island’s Best Clambake by Rhode Island Monthly. Here, he shows you how to partake in this beloved New England tradition at home.

Say you are at the beach and want to host a clambake. What do you need to do?
Before building your clambake pit, one needs a proper wire basket to place the food in, burlap, a few sailing tarps and lots of wood. The baskets can be custom made and purchased from anysizebasket.com. I suggest purchasing at least two. The rest of the equipment can be found at a local hardware store. Once you have purchased all your equipment, you simply need to dig a hole about 10 feet wide and 3 feet deep. Place enough wood in the hole to fill and light using newspaper and a match.

 You don't have to be on the beach to enjoy this New England tradition. Credit: Castle Hill Inn
You don’t have to be on the beach to enjoy this New England tradition. Credit: Castle Hill Inn

What about those who don’t have sand or aren’t at the beach? Can you still do a clambake?
You can still create a clambake pit without sand. At Castle Hill Inn, our clambake is perched well above Grace Kelly beach, where we have no sand, only dirt and rocks. The advantage of building a pit in the earth rather than a beach is that you avoid having sand in your food, which is inevitable when preparing food on a beach. Many catering companies don’t even dig a hole to prepare a clambake, they simply light a fire and use the coals to cook the lobsters.

It’s not just clams in your clambake. What else can you toss in there?
We add homemade chorizo, potatoes, corn and lobsters, but you could bury just about anything. This past year we buried a whole pig in the clambake pit and smoked it for four hours before unveiling. It was delicious.

Are clambakes easy to pull off?
There are many variables at play in order to have a successful clambake. We have executed at least 30 clambakes over the last two years and they are never easy to prepare.

Can Rhode Island claim the clambake?
Clambakes are traditional to New England. There are two native Rhode Island tribes, the Narragansett and Wampanoag, who were known for their clambake celebrations. Some historians even state that the clambake may have been one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations.

Castle Hill Clambake
Courtesy of executive chef Karsten Hart 

Executive Chef Karsten Hart.
Executive chef Karsten Hart.

One of my first culinary experiences in New England was at a traditional clambake. Not knowing quite what to expect, I watched attentively. When the tarp was removed, smoke and steam rose from the ground, revealing our culinary treasures. The smell was incredible! The first taste of lobster was sweet, salty and smoky; the best lobster I ever tasted. It was my hope to recreate this dish at home for my wife Deja. Below is our version of a traditional New England clambake. The smoked seaweed adds a salty-smoky flavor to the broth similar to a traditional clam bake. Enjoy!

Serves 6
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter
3 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
20 littleneck clams, washed
1 tsp. red chili flakes
4 links chorizo (Portuguese sausage), cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ears corn, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 lb. fingerling potatoes, blanched for five minutes in boiling water
3 cups rock seaweed, lightly grilled
2 cups vinho verde (Portuguese white wine)
3 lobsters (1.5 pounds each) steamed for 5 minutes in gently boiling water
3 cups fresh clam juice
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper
2 whole baguettes

Add butter to a large braising pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Simmer for 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add littlenecks, chili flakes, chorizo, corn, fingerling potatoes, seaweed, vihno verde and lobsters. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add clam juice, cover with a lid and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, add chopped parsley, butter and black pepper. Simmer for 1 minute. Serve in warm bowls with lots of sliced baguette to soak up all the juices!



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.