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

NYPD looking for man they say assaulted elderly…

      The New York City Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in locating a Hispanic male 20's wanted in connection with…

Local

Three arrested after allegedly assaulting off-duty officer in…

Three men were arrested early Saturday morning after allegedly assaulting an off-duty officer at a Bronx bodega, and the NYPD is asking for the public's…

Local

Healthcare union creates vibrant West Indian Day Parade…

Volunteers worked almost around the clock through the weekend, putting the flashy finishing touches on hundreds of costume pieces 1199SEIU members will wear while marching…

National

Top 10 most hipster college campuses

Hipsters are everywhere these days. You can't walk down the anywhere anymore without seeing a pair of skinny jeans on a handlebar mustachioed 20-something, a…

Arts

Theater: Discouraging 'Poor Behavior'

Theresa Rebeck's latest off-Broadway play, about two couples sparring on a weekend getaway, repeats a few mistakes of her past.

Gossip

Chef Todd English arrested for DWI in the…

Celebrity chef Todd English is facing DWI charges after a traffic stop on Sunday.

Movies

Box office: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is 2014's…

This weekend "The Guardians of the Galaxy" passed the fourth "Transformers" movie to become the highest grossing film of 2014.

Gossip

Spears back with controversial ex?

Is Briteny Spears back with Adnan Ghalib?

Sports

Novak Djokovic feeds off US Open crowd to…

Novak Djokovic isn't a native New Yorker, but he sure knows how to use the U.S. Open crowd to his advantage.

NFL

Odell Beckham still 'weeks away,' Tom Coughlin angry…

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin has fought a losing battle against the media all preseason over the status of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…

Sex

When it comes to dating, height matters

Does a man’s height really matter when it comes to dating? Unfortunately - according to a new study - the answer looks like it’s yes.…

Travel

10 free apps to make traveling easier

Finding the nearest bathroom, calculating currency exchanges and locating your departure gate must have been difficult for travelers of previous generations. But we wouldn't know,…

Travel

How to get a seat upgrade to business…

It used to be much easier to upgrade your coach seat to business or even first class, but rigid rules and tighter schedules have made…