Having spent all my summers on the water, I find the clambake one of the most all-American staples of summer. This mini version is a substantial hors d’oeuvre that could also serve as a first course. A small metal sand pail holds one whole cooked crayfish and two cooked, shelled crayfish tails, a salt-baked baby potato, and fresh baby corn. For easier eating, throw in a wooden fork. Check with your local fishmonger for cooked whole crayfish and tails; you can also order both online. Fresh baby corn is appearing more frequently at farmer’s markets, but if you can’t get it locally, just use the canned variety.
2 cups coarse salt
8 peewee or marble potatoes
8 ears baby corn 2 cups clam broth
8 cooked whole large crayfish
16 cooked crayfish tails, shells removed
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving
16 lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread out the salt to fill a half-sheet pan. Set the potatoes about 1 inch apart on the salt bed, pushing them down a bit into the salt. Bake until tender, about 20 minutes.
If using fresh baby corn, place the ears in a steamer over boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Lay the baby corn across a heated grill pan just long enough to color with grill marks, 3 to 5 minutes.
In a large pot over medium-low heat, heat the clam broth (do not bring to a boil). Add the whole crayfish and the tails and heat just until warmed through, 3 to 5 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking broth and drain the crayfish.
To serve, line the bottoms of the pails with parsley sprigs and arrange 1 whole crayfish, 2 tails, 1 potato, 1 baby corn, and 2 lemon wedges in each pail. Drizzle with the reserved hot broth.
Excerpted from Peter Callahan’s Party Food. Copyright © 2017 by Peter Callahan. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Con Poulos. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
This original recipe article first appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of City Style and Living Magazine