Adding the ingredients in the right order is the secret to this recipe's success; the ones that take longest to cook go in first. The optional layer of seaweed (available from most fishmongers) imparts a salty ocean essence and keeps the potatoes off the bottom of the pot.
- 2 large or 3 medium onions, cut into large wedges
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 bottle pale ale or medium-bodied beer
- 1 cup water
- Fresh seaweed, well rinsed, for layering (optional)
- 1½ pounds small new potatoes (white, red, or a combination)
- 1 pound hot dried chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Coarse salt
- 3 lobsters (1½ pounds each)
- 36 littleneck clams, scrubbed well
- 4 ears of corn, husked and halved
- 2 pounds mussels, debearded and scrubbed well
- 1½ pounds large shrimp (about 30), shell-on
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)
- 2 lemons, halved
Combine onions, garlic, pale ale, and water in a 16-quart stockpot. Cover with a layer of seaweed (or place a steamer basket on top of onions). Add potatoes, chorizo, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil. Add lobsters; cook over high heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Add clams and corn; cook, covered, for 6 minutes. Add mussels and shrimp; cook, covered, until clams and mussels open and shrimp are cooked through, 4-8 minutes.
Remove seafood, corn, potatoes and chorizo using tongs, and transfer to large platters or rimmed baking sheets. Discard seaweed and any unopened clams and mussels. Strain liquid through a sieve into a bowl; add butter, swirling to melt. Squeeze lemons over clambake.