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"Cleveland Style" Clambake

A little known fact: Cleveland is the clambake capital of the country. I don't know why this is, but my fish purveyors tell me that from August through September they sell more clams to Cleveland than to any other city in the country. My interpretation of the clambake is not traditional; it's done more in the style of a crab boil, with sausage, corn, clams and shrimp all layered in a pot and cooked together. To serve this, I dump the whole pot out onto a table lined with newspaper or a plastic tablecloth. You can put it in a big serving bowl, but the effect of dumping it out onto a table is stunning. I learned the service trick from Susie Heller, former Clevelander and a coauthor on numerous wonderful books, and I prepared this clambake on Dinner Impossible; we made six huge vats to serve four hundred people. But it's a no-brainer, and it's one of the best, most dramatic one-pot family meals there is.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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1 pound smoked kielbasa, sliced in 1/2-inch disks

2 ears of corn, each cut into 4 pieces 

3 1/2 pounds littleneck clams, scrubbed clean

1 pound shell-on medium (16- to 20-count) shrimp, deveined 

2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 Fresno chiles, sliced into rings

1 bay leaf

1 head of garlic, halved

1 lemon, quartered

1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped 

One 750-millileter bottle dry white wine

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, optional


  1. In a large pot with a lid, add the food in layers--the kielbasa first, followed by the corn, clams and shrimp. Distribute the coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, chiles, bay leaf, garlic, lemon and onions over the top. Pour in the wine, cover and cook over high heat until the clams open, 20 to 25 minutes. 
  2. Discard the bay leaf and any clams that do not open. Strain the clambake and sprinkle with cilantro if using. Serve.