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Clam Bake Help: Need Advice on heat and Rocks

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A little help

I'm hosting a clambake this weekend. I've got the food sorted but I need advice on the rocks (type), how long to heat them, and if it's possible to heat them on running gas grills (likely) i'll have some trouble (with the community) running an open fire on the beach.

Can a gas grill run for 2 hours on max (think it gets up to 550-600) cook the rocks enough?

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  1. Not sure but that sounds like a recipe for disaster. How will you transfer the hot rocks to the beach? How big a grill do you have to heat up rocks? How many clambakes are you trying to cook?

    Just dig a hole. Line it with rocks found on the beach (low tide is easiest for this, can be prepped in advance), fill it with wood and start your fire. I've never heard of a beach community that frowns on open fires as long as it's allowed on that particular beach and is tended and snuffed out properly.

    4 Replies
    1. re: CapeCodGuy

      It is likely a recipe for disaster. The community president came out after all invites were mailed to nix open fires, so I'm looking for my next best option. It's fine, I understand their concerns. Not enough time for permits for alternate locations. I wonder though, how long did you have to heat the rocks and cook the food with the "proper" method.

      1. re: oystter

        A lot of your questions are dependant on the size of the pit and amount and type of food you want to serve. What I do generally is dig a large hole, lining the bottom and a bit of the sides with large stones you gather from the beach. You wrap individual portions in cheesecloth, usually a lobster, clams of course, a sausage of some type, corn and maybe some smaller red bliss potatoes in each "packet". You build a fire on top of the stones until they get hot enoght to instantly disolve a drop of water. That takes about an hour or so. after that you rake the coals aside and put down a layer of wet seaweed, then the food "packets" then more wet seaweed. Cover the entire thing with a tarp to trap the steam in. Allow about 2 hours to have everything cooked. I've cooked for 30 people using the above method.

        Alternatively, you could use a charcoal grill, but you need to alter your food 'packets' by including a small handful of wet seaweed in each, and then wrap the packets tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil. Cook for about one hour leaving the cover on the grill.

        Good luck!

        1. re: CapeCodGuy

          One other thought. Depending on the size of your group, just rent a big ass propane turkey fryer and steam everything in individual cheesecloth bags.

        2. re: oystter

          The whole thing was described in considerable detail in the cooking column of the NYT Magazine just this past Sunday. How to translate that into something not involving a fire sounds essentially impossible. I recommend restaurant reservations for your already-invited guests… :-)

      2. Maybe just a clam boil would be better. I never tried to heat rocks on a grill.

        "Caution" if you decide to heat rocks on a grill, please where safety glasses. I have had rocks explode and there is much more of a chance they will if you use rocks from near the shore.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chefjohn

          Agreed, do not heat rocks on the grill. I thought that was already established. BTW, the community president is an ass. What harm is a pit fire on a beach? What is he afraid of, the sand or ocean catching fire?