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Fourth of July Clambake!

by Anne Assassi | 1 year ago


Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I think my love for this holiday blossomed early in my childhood because my siblings and I had some serious bragging rights: our dad was the DJ at our local 4th of July Summer Concert in the Park for years.

When my sister, Debbie, was a pre-teen, she informed a group of friends that my dad was basically the co-star of the show, alongside the fireworks. They refused to believe her the whole night until she marched them over to the stage and introduced them. Debbie’s dad couldn’t be THAT cool, they thought. Long story short, Debbie earned some serious credibility that night.

Maybe that’s why I’ve taken on the role of chef during the Fourth, among other holidays. There’s something about being the celebrity behind the food at a cookout. It’s a fulfilling gig, especially when the food tastes delicious!

My husband, Adrian, and I often invite several friends over for 4th of July-related barbecues. I do the recipe planning, prep, and ensure we use the right woodchips, and Adrian does the grilling! This year I wanted to grill up a major clambake – something as near as possible to an authentic clambake at the beach.

I’ve made similar recipes before, like my recipe for a Cajun Shrimp Foil Packet, but never one where a group of people get to dive into a few serving platters of amazing shellfish, cracking shells with their hands and all.

So did I reach celebrity status with my recipes this year? My friends who partook in this clambake thought so! But you can judge for yourself! The recipes are below for a rockin’ grilled clambake with broccolini, grilled bread, a blackberry cobbler, and a lemosa cocktail!

Fourth of July Clambake

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4-6

2 lbs manila clams (about 48)
Kosher salt
1 lb baby new potatoes, sliced 1-inch thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 links cooked chorizo or other smoked sausage, about 1 lb
1 lb shell-on deveined jumbo shrimp (about 12)
1 lb king crab legs (about 2 legs), cut in half
2 ears corn, shucked, cut in half (or 3 pieces per ear)
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 large thyme sprigs
½ cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Compound Butter
1 cup salted butter
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh chives, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tbsp old bay seasoning

Grilled Broccolini
2 medium bunches broccolini, trimmed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp lemon pepper or more to taste
4 lemon wedges, for serving

Grilled French Baguette
1 French baguette, sliced lengthwise
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Other Supplies
Wood chips, for grilling
Aluminum foil
Charcoal Briquettes
Lighter Fluid


Clambake Prep
Soak a few handfuls of mesquite wood chips in a medium bowl.

Add clams to a large bowl of cold salted water. Allow to soak in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Drain clams and scrub to remove any additional sand. Rinse and transfer to the refrigerator.

Place potatoes in a pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes, until potatoes are al dente. Drain and set aside.

Prepare compound butter by adding butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, chives, parsley, and old bay seasoning to a food processor. Pulse until herbs are well incorporated. Refrigerate until cool. Divide butter into 16 equal pieces.

In a large bowl, combine broccolini with lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt, and lemon pepper.

Brush each bread half with about 3 pieces of compound butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Foil Packets
Lightly grease two 12” x 24” pieces of foil with 1 tsp olive oil and lay flat on a table. Fold a rim around the edges. In the center of each foil piece, equally distribute the potatoes to the bottom layer, followed by chorizo, shrimp, crab legs, clams, corn, garlic, thyme sprigs, and one piece of herbed butter. Pour over white wine, about ¼ cup per packet. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top foil packet with an additional 12” x 24” piece of foil. Fold up each packet by bringing the two short sides together. Then fold the foil down and seal the edges of the packet. Poke a hole at the top to allow steam to escape.

The Grilling
On a charcoal grill, heat coals over one half of the grill to medium heat. Add wood chips to the charcoal, cover the grill until it starts smoking.

Grill the foil packets, covered, for 20 minutes. Check the foil packets for doneness: the clams should have opened and the potatoes should be cooked through. Discard any clams that do not open. Transfer the clambake to a serving platter. Pour over remaining liquid from the foil packs.

Remove the lid and place the broccolini and bread on the grill. Leave uncovered and turn the broccolini occasionally until lightly charred and tender, about 8-10 minutes. Grill the bread on each side and cook on each side, until golden brown. Transfer the broccolini and bread to separate platters. Cut bread into 1-inch diagonal slices once cool.

Serve clambake w/remaining pieces of melted compound butter. Top broccolini w/squeezes of lemon and serve with grilled bread. Serve with the cocktail and blackberry cobbler below!

You say Hard Lemonade, I say Lemosa!

Time: 5 Minutes
Serves 4


Simple Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
6 oz vodka or more for a stronger cocktail
1/4 cup dry white wine
Ice cubes
4 lemon slices

In a medium saucepan, add water and sugar. Bring to a boil and then down to a low simmer, stirring for about 1 minute, until sugar has dissolved. Cool.

In a cocktail, add ice, simple syrup, lemon juice, water, vodka, and white wine. Shake for 30 seconds to combine.

Add additional ice to four serving glasses with sugared rims. Pour over lemosa and serve with slices of lemon.

Firecracker Blackberry Cobbler

Adapted from Food Network

Time: 1 hour
Serves 6-8

1/2 stick butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
2 pints fresh blackberries
Whipped cream and/or ice cream, for serving
2 tbsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 3-quart baking dish lightly with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk 1 cup sugar with flour, baking powder, salt, and milk. Whisk in the melted butter.

Rinse blackberries and pat them dry. Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries evenly over the top of the batter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar over blackberries.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 50 to 60 minutes.

Top cobbler with your choice of whipped cream and/or ice cream!