July 5, 2014 – Sheet-Pan Clambake with Mussels, Shrimp, and Chorizo

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Saturday night, we made  Sheet-Pan Clambake with Mussels, Shrimp, and Chorizo, a recipe we found recently in Real Simple magazine. Tony describes how it all came together.

We rarely make things like mussels and clams, mostly because I’m nervous that I won’t get them clean enough before cooking them or that one of us will eat a bad one and get sick. This recipe really addressed both of those concerns. More important, it sounded like a really fun thing to try for a holiday weekend.

As planned, we went to our local Whole Foods to get fresh mussels, clams, and shrimp as well as some small Yukon gold potatoes, which we weren’t able to find on Fresh Direct. We were cutting the recipe in half, so we had to take that into account too.

The first challenge was finding the potatoes. It turned out that Whole Food didn’t have small Yukon gold potatoes loose and we couldn’t justify buying a whole bag, as we had no desire to use them for anything else. Instead, we just bought one medium-sized Yukon gold potato.

We had a similar problem at the seafood counter, namely, that while we only wanted one pound of mussels, all they had were two-pound bags.We decided to improvise and bought the two pounds of mussels and just half a pound of clams, instead of a pound. (Halving the  recipe means using one pound of each.) We both like mussels, so this wasn’t a big issue. Buying 1/4 pound of shrimp turned out to be a lot easier!

Once we got everything home, the next step was to clean the clams and mussels. The same issue of Real Simple that had the recipe also had very simple instructions for cleaning the shellfish. Basically, you put them in a large pot of cold, salted water and let them sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that whatever sand or grit that’s inside the shells can find its way out.

While the shellfish were soaking, I prepped the potato and chorizo. The chorizo was simple, as I just cut two links into thirds. For the potato, I cut into four wedges and the cut each wedges into three pieces. I put all of this into a good-sized roasting pan.

At this point, I had to start thinking about the timing of all the steps. The potatoes and chorizo were supposed to cook for about 20 minutes and the shellfish were supposed to soak for 30. I didn’t want things to come out of the oven and sit, getting cold, while I finished cleaning the shellfish. So, when the shellfish had been soaking for 20 minutes, I put the potatoes and chorizo in the oven. This meant I would have at least 10 minutes to finish cleaning the shellfish–scooping everything out of the water carefully and then “debeard” the mussels, which just involves plucking off little bunches of stuff that looks a little like seaweed–while things in the oven finished cooking.

I was trying to get the two steps mentioned above finished at the same time, which is exactly what happened. There were only two things left to do: 1) put the clams on a separate baking sheet and 2) add the mussels and shrimp, plus some butter and Old Bay seasoning, to the roasting pan and mix it with the potatoes and chorizo. Everything went into the oven for another 15 minutes, which was the high end of the cooking time for the clams and mussels/shrimp.

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Once everything came out of the oven, all that was left to do was add the clams to the roasting pan and serve. We sprinkled some more Old Bay onto each our of plates and sat down to a delicious clam bake, complete with Sam Adams Summer Ale, all courtesy of our small New York City kitchen. We plan on making this again soon, probably after our next trip to Long Island when we can get more fresh seafood, and might even invite a friend or two over to share…

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