Clambake: Feasting, New England-Style
Rhode Island claims proudly that it’s the rightful home of the old-fashioned New England clambake, featuring lobsters, clams, fish, native sausage, corn, and sweet potatoes, usually leading off with a big bowl of clam chowder–and we’ll bet nobody ever leaves hungry!
In general, the dressing (much like turkey dressing, but sometimes with chopped clams instead of giblets) is placed at the center on top of a seaweed bed. Potatoes, onions, bockwursts, fish, and chicken go in a circle around the dressing. Soft-shell clams are placed in the next circle, with their juice adding to the flavor of everything else. Brown bread is next, then the corn, and finally, in the outermost circle, lobsters. A medium-size onion placed at the very edge acts as a tester. Another layer of seaweed follows, and then the entire bake is covered with a heavy tarpaulin and the edges sealed with rocks, sand, and water. In about an hour and twenty minutes–and if the onion at the edge is well cooked–come and get it!
“Rhode Island Clam Bake,” by Margery Hall, May 1962