It’s not exactly Canadian, but it’s perfect for Canada Day – easy and delicious, with plenty to go around.
For me, Canada Day is about hanging out with friends, not shaving truffles and mincing shallots in the kitchen. It’s about shorts and sandals, not chef whites.
There’s always food at my Canada Day celebration, but it’s there as more of a beer sponge than a gustatory adventure through elaborately-plated courses. Every year I try to throw together a spread that is easy as hell, can feed a large amount of people, requires very little cleanup, and tastes fantastic. It’s a tall order, but I think I’ve finally found the perfect dish for Canada Day.
Only thing is, it’s American.
Yes, I had to pick a place that doesn’t even know Canada exists as my inspiration for the dish I will serve on this, our most nationalistic day of the year.
A New England clam boil is foolproof, delicious, and dead simple. Here’s what you do: sauté some onion and garlic in a big pot, dump all your clams on top, pour in some white wine and lobster or chicken stock. Get some nice, medium-sized new potatoes, give them a quick scrub, and they’ll be good to go.
Dump your potatoes on top of the clams and the corn on top of the potatoes. Put some sausages on top if you feel like it. Put a lid on it and turn the heat to low. Go outside and crack a beer and forget about it for three hours.
After you and your friends have spent the day painting the Habs logo on your faces while listening to Anne Murray’s oeuvre and tossing the old lacrosse ball around, it’ll be time to eat.
To set the perfect table for a clam boil, you’ll need a stack of newspapers and lots of napkins. No plates or cutlery required, just one big bowl for the clams.
Throw some newspapers down on your picnic table and scoop out all the sausages, potatoes, and corn. Just let them tumble down the length of the table before pouring the clams and juices into a big communal bowl. Have plenty of butter and salt on hand. The clams become so tender they melt, and slathered in butter, the corn and potatoes will be the most ethereal starches you’ve ever tried, infused as they are with lobster essence, white wine. and clam juices. Pair with buckets of cold beer on ice. Eating with your hands can be messy, but guests can clean off by running through the sprinkler or cannon-balling the deep end of the pool.
New England Clam Boil
2-3 potatoes per person
1 pound of clams per person
1 ear of corn per person, cut in half
Onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper
Everyone should have some lobster stock in the freezer; if you don’t have it, you can still make this recipe, it just won’t be as awesome. Every time you eat lobster this summer, freeze the shells. Wait for a rainy day and make a simple stock with the shells and some onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
For five lobster bodies, add five to six litres of water. Let simmer for a few hours, then strain the stock and let it reduce by half. You should end up with about three litres, let cool then freeze in one-litre portions.
Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, add the clams, and reduce with white wine. Half a bottle should do it; then pour in one litre of lobster stock. Let the liquid come up to a simmer and reduce heat to low. On top of the clams, add the potatoes, corn, bay leaves, and thyme and sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper. Lay some raw sausage on top and put on the lid. Leave it alone for three hours. Enjoy.