Farewell Summer: Host a Backyard Clambake

posted: 08/24/16
by: Katie Morton
summer clam bake

While it's undeniable that summer is slowly coming to a close, there's still time to throw one last backyard hurrah. And a traditional clambake is one of the best ways to go--decadent finger foods, sultry summer evenings, and twilight alfresco dining. Here are our tips to bring the taste of the Cape to your guests.

1. Set the Beach Scene

A true clambake is beachy and relaxed, so follow suit with your decor. Keep the vibe casual. Do you have a picnic table? If so, that's perfect. If you don't have your own picnic seating, patio tables and plastic chairs also work. For extra cheer, cover tables with red-and-white buffalo print tablecloths.

You'll need buckets for shells (aim for one bucket per every three guests) and utensils. These lobster-claw shaped crackers do double-duty as utensil and design element. And these shatterproof, themed platters are perfect for displaying your savory seafood.

Rolls of paper towels and wet wipes are a must for this hands-on meal. If you want to elevate your tablescape, accent white napkins with beach-themed napkin holders.

2. Select the Seafood Menu

Now that you've got the scene set, it's time to decide on your menu. Some purists like to adhere to tradition (New Englanders will have staunch opinions on what a "real" clambake requires). Others use "clambake" in the broad sense to include "any seafood you can steam."

Unless you're lucky enough to live on the shore, odds are you don't have a sand pit for cooking seafood in your backyard. No worries, you can still recreate a savory clambake using either a stove or a grill.

Here's Martha Stewart's recipe for a foolproof stovetop clambake. Note: The recipe serves 6-8 guests; adjust the recipe for more guests. If the idea of using a stove for an outdoor party is heresy, check out New York Magazine's recipe for a grilled clambake.

No matter which option you choose, make the legwork easier for your guests by snipping the tips off the lobsters' claws and pre-cracking them. This prep tip also drains any additional liquid from the crustaceans, cutting down on the mess.

3. Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Any memorable party needs themed beverages--and signature cocktails add a fun touch. For traditional clambake flare, consider mixing up a few pitchers of classic Cape Cods. Not only are these cocktails refreshing, but they also pair really well with seafood.

Of course, you'll also want to have beer, wine, soda, and plenty of water on hand. There are tons of creative ways to display drinks, check out these party-friendly drink stations for inspiration.

Toast the last lazy days of summer with a communal seafood feast. The relaxed ease of a clambake makes for a delicious farewell to summer that your guests will continue to rave about come fall!