For those of you who haven’t decided on your Fourth of July menu, you may want to consider this exceptional, Summer-inspired dish from The Barefoot Contessa. This delicious mixture of succulent lobster, shrimp, clams and hearty kielbasa has always been one of my favorite Fourth of July meals. It provides all the delightful flavors of Summer without all the schlepping and sand of a clambake on the beach. The flavors are also beautifully enhanced by the Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, which Ina recommends serving with it in her iconic “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.” The wonderful synergy between wine and dish elevates this duo to “Perfect Pairing” status!
While the ingredients can be a tad pricey, this dish compensates beautifully with its ease of preparation and quick cooking time. Once the prep work is done and the shellfish are cleaned, everything is essentially piled into one big pot and the whole thing cooks in under an hour. Also, upon the ceremonial removing of the lid, you are sure to hear some audible “oohs,” “aahs” and “oh no she didn’ts” from your guests – it definitely has a “wow” factor!
Although many people think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape as a red wine, a white wine is also produced from this region located in France’s Southern Rhone Valley. The white incarnation is a blend of some relatively obscure grape varieties including Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul, Bourboulenc and Clairette. Despite their obscurity, the end result is quite lovely consisting of a medium-bodied white wine with a delightful minerality and aromatic fruit and floral notes. These wines walk the line between a Sauvignon Blanc and a Chardonnay which is why they pair so well with the clambake; the wine is rich enough to stand up to the lobster but has enough acidity to complement the lighter shellfish too. Some wonderful producers of Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc include Château La Nerthe, Château de Beaucastel, and Château Mont-Redon.
In addition to the wine, serve the Kitchen Clambake with fresh corn on the cob slathered with butter, crusty bread and mugs of the seasoned broth the seafood has cooked in. I also like to have Old Bay Seasoning on hand which is so delicious with just about any type of shellfish. For an added touch of glamour, be sure to greet your guests with our signature Fourth of July Pomegranate Aperol Royale. I hope you enjoy this pairing and have a fabulous Fourth – God Bless America!
from Ina Garten’s “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook”
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 pounds kielbasa
3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 cups chopped leeks, well cleaned (2 leeks, white parts only)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes (red or white)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
2 dozen steamer clams, scrubbed
2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, in the shell
3 (1 1/2 pound) lobsters
2 cups good dry white wine (since Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc is generally pricey, don’t feel like you need to use it in the recipe – any dry, white wine you enjoy drinking will do!)
1.) Slice the kielbasa diagonally into 1-inch thick slices. Set aside. Saute the onions and leeks in the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed 16 to 20 quart stockpot over medium heat for 15 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
2.) Layer the ingredients on top of the onions in the stockpot in this order: first the potatoes, salt, and pepper; then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steamer clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobsters. Pour in the white wine. Cover the pot tightly and cook over medium-high heat until steam just begins to escape from the lid, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and cook another 15 minutes. The clambake should be done. Test to be sure the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are open.
3.) Remove the lobsters to a wooden board, cut them up, and crack the claws. With large slotted spoons, remove the seafood, potatoes, and sausages to a large bowl and top with the lobsters. Season the broth in the pot to taste, and ladle over the seafood, being very careful to avoid any sand in the bottom.