DINNER WITH FRIENDS| BELEN AQUINO

DSC_0034Hello, hello! We are in for a big treat today. Belen Aquino, a Chicago-based photographer, and her family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and they are taking us along with them to experience dinner on the Cape! In true New England fashion, they invited a bunch of friends over and settled in for a delicious clam bake….with an Italian twist. Scroll down to see the full story and delicious recipe. 
DSC_0041Hello! Belen here and I am so excited to share this delicious dinner. Our last night on Martha’s Vineyard we decided to do a clam boil and invite over a few friends and family. While my husband Drew and his cousin Armando took on making  the boil, I set about getting the table ready. Weekend and summer homes are never as well equipped as an everyday home. All the plates are mix and match, and there’s are never enough linens to go around. Clam boils are messy eating so I used last weeks paper to cover the picnic tables. DSC_0053Right before everybody arrived I snipped a few branches off the wild rose bushes that run along the property line and placed them down the center of the table. Sometimes, just using what’s on hand is the best way to go. And think outside the box. Who says you can’t use newspaper to cover the table? Talk about a conversation starter. Sitting outside enjoying the sunset and eating clams right out of the ocean, and chatting with some of my nearest and dearest was truly the best way to end a magical vacation. DSC_0081 DSC_0082

INGREDIENTS:

– 4 Gallons water

– 4 cups clam juice

– 1/2 pound unsalted butter

– 2 oz jar Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Magic (or more to taste)

– 6 medium yellow onions, quartered

– 8 stalks celery, cut into thirds

– All of the cloves of 4 heads garlic peeled and cleaned

– 2 lemons, halved

– 4 tablespoons kosher salt

– 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

– 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked, cleaned, and cut into thirds

– 3 pounds new potatoes (we used a mix of red and golden)

– 4 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch lengths (We used Linguiça and a bourbon sausage.)

– 4 pounds steamer clams

– 4 pounds littleneck clams

– 2 sticks salted butter (melted)

– 2 loaves crusty French bread

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine the water and clam juice and butter in a 6-gallon pot.

2. Add the seafood magic, onions, celery, garlic, lemon, salt and black pepper. Add the sweet corn and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and add the sausage. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost fork-tender, about 10 minutes.

3. While the boil is heating, clean the clams by scrubbing thoroughly and rinsing under cold running water. Fill the sink with cold water and swish clams back and forth to dislodge any sand and grit that may be caught in the necks. Rinse and repeat several times. If you’re buying clams from your local supermarket, you can probably skip this step.

4. When the potatoes are almost fork-tender, add the clams, increase the heat to high, cover, and cook until the shells pop open, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the liquid from the pot.

5. Serve the clam boil on paper bags or newspaper. Discard any clams that do not open.  Pass the melted butter and bread.

DSC_0115 DSC_0121Clam boils are the absolute best. They are messy, happy, and oh so delicious! We made some of our favorite sides to round out the meal. Pair it all with a few bottles of your favorite wine & voila – taste bud heaven. Feel free to spice things up, switch it around, this is your dinner party, so have fun with it. DSC_0126 DSC_0128 DSC_0152


Recipe adapted from  Emeril Lagasse, 2005

Photography & Copy by Belen Aquino