To all the New Englanders out there who have ever participated in a proper, Portuguese-style clam boil, this one is for you. A proper clam boil is nothing short of a masterpiece of culinary theatre. The steam billowing from an enormous pot to reveal brilliant red potatoes, corn on the cob, linguica sausages, soft onions, and pounds upon pounds of littleneck clams is enough to make anyone go: "Wow!" However, despite the inherent theatricality of a traditional clam boil, there are certain drawbacks that could make you think twice before making one for a party.
While a clam boil is, in essence, an easy-to-put-together one-pot meal, having that giant stockpot bubbling away on the stove is going to heat up your kitchen really fast. And with guests crowding in, it may start to feel like you're working a shift as a line cook as opposed to hosting a casual party. One solution is to go to the beach, dig a hole, heat up some stones, and cook everything between seaweed layers. Though this method is beautifully old-school, it is not always feasible.
Instead, you might want to consider the fun alternative of a customizable clam boil. Essentially, you divvy up the ingredients, use smaller cooking vessels, and move the proceedings outside to the grill. It will make your hosting duties much easier and really get your party guests involved in the clam-boiling process.
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Grills, And Loaf Pans, And Clams, Oh My!
The idea, via The Kitchn, is that, rather than just having everything cooked together in one giant pot, you allow your guests to customize their clam boil to their own preference. To achieve this, however, you will need individualized cooking vessels. Enter the aluminum bread loaf pan. These are large enough to make up a hefty single portion per guest, small enough to be able to be configured on the grill in a jigsaw pattern, and heat resistant enough to stand up to the grill's temperatures. You just need to make sure you have enough for your guests.
Start by having all the ingredients lined up buffet-style on the countertop. Have the guests form a line and fill their loaf pans with whatever clam boil ingredients they like and plenty of butter. At the end, have a sharpie and sheets of aluminum foil ready for them to write their names on and cover the loaf pan.
All that is left to do is locate the grill master and cook up the clam boils until everything is ready to eat. The corn and potatoes should be hot and tender, the sausages juicy, and the clams open and steaming. You and your guests can enjoy your loaf pan clam boils and get back in line for some more.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.