First Person: Edible Cleveland’s Clambake Winner

“I’ll Share My Clam Bake with Edible Cleveland!”

That was a recent call-to-action post on Edible Cleveland’s Facebook page. Ignoring my track record of never winning anything, I threw caution to the wind and entered the contest. To my great surprise, I won and was soon planning a clam bake for eight. Clambake winner web

The prize was a $100 gift card to Heinen’s. At about $15 a person, the card went a long way toward covering the cost of feeding eight people. With gift card in hand, I headed to the Bay Village store to get the low-down on how to prepare a clam bake. Having gone to plenty of them before, but never preparing one of my own, I was expecting to do a lot of work. They sure looked difficult to put on.

But I was wrong.

The woman behind the fish counter walked me through the whole thing. She told me what all was included in a bake — 1 dozen clams, a quarter chicken, 1 sweet potato, 1 ear of corn, coleslaw, 1 roll & butter, plus the paper products and plastic utensils.

She said I had to put a deposit down on the steamer, tell them how many people I would be serving, determine if anyone wanted extra clams (at an additional cost) and to come back on clam bake day to pick everything up. They would do all the prep work. This was turning into my kind of party.

The instructions that came with the bake were pretty clear: put everything in the pot in the order listed, add water and the broth provided, put the lid on and, under penalty of death, do not allow steam to escape by opening the lid to peek frequently. Just sit back and wait about an hour and a half and then let the feasting begin. Clambake pot web

They did suggest finishing the chicken off on a grill with a bit of barbeque sauce and that is exactly what we did. It was worth the extra step. When we took the chicken out to grill, we put the corn in. It took about 15 minutes and was steamed to perfection.

The clams were tender; the sweet potatoes delicious. The chicken was falling-off-the-bone done, but certainly not overcooked or dry.

The clam steamer has a spigot at the bottom so you can pour off all of the clam broth, which is my favorite part of the whole meal. It was a cold night and the flavorful, salty broth was exactly what was needed to warm things up a bit.

Clam bakes are traditionally eaten outdoors and ours was held in the barn at That’ll Do Farm. Friends brought pumpkin pie for dessert and we served some of our favorite local fall beers from Fat Heads Brewery and Great Lakes Brewing Co., along with some crisp Ohio apple cider.  Clambake Group web

It is a mystery why clam bakes are popular here, so far from any ocean. But they are a sure sign of fall. And now that I know how easy they are to prepare, I think they will become an annual farm tradition.

–Andrea Wargo

Note: Edible Cleveland would like to thank Heinen’s for providing the gift card for the clambake contest.