While the ingredient list for a traditional seaside lobster bake and a backyard one is identical – lobsters, clams, potatoes, onions, corn, sausage and butter – the latter locale for this New England summertime celebration of the sea requires a lot less sand – none, in fact.

To pull off a traditional Native American lobster bake, a cook digs a large, deep hole on a sandy beach, builds a fire in the bottom to heat a collection of stones that then get covered with seaweed. The lobsters et al. are placed on top of the seaweed, covered by more seaweed and then a tarp. The layering ensures the food is steamed to perfection in about an hour.

At home, you can use a grill (or even a stovetop) and a lobster pot for similar results. Here is an illustrated 10-step guide on how to make it happen.

1. Pick your pot wisely. It needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients (a bake for 6 requires a 32-quart pot) but small enough so your heating element is not overwhelmed.
2. Soak a dozen softshell clams per eater in salty water. Wrap each dozen in a piece of cheese cloth with the corners tied together.
3. Combine three small red potatoes and as many peeled pearl onions in similar cheesecloth packets. Remove silk and all but two layers of husk from one ear of fresh corn per eater.
4. Dispatch one lobster per eater by plunging a sharp knife straight down between the eyes.
5. Cover the bottom of pot with three inches of wet seaweed and three inches of water. Layer ingredients on top of seaweed in this order: pouches of clams, corn, pouches of potatoes and pearl onions, whole smoked sausages (one per eater), and lobsters. Cover the lobsters with cheesecloth and another three inches of seaweed.
6. Cover the pot and place it over high heat. When you hear the hiss of the steam, reduce heat to medium and cook for 75 minutes. The clams will be open, the lobsters bright red, the vegetables tender.
7. Place butter in a small pan near the lobster pot to melt.
8. Line a picnic table with newspaper. Lay down some plates with large cloth napkins, forks and ramekins. Spread a few nutcrackers or meat mallets about the table for eaters to share if they need help getting into the lobster.
9. Spread cooked food on the prepared table, fill ramekins with melted butter. Scatter lemon quarters around the table, giving eater the option of flavoring their butter or refreshing their hands once the meal is done.
10. Compost the seaweed and set the pot at the end of the table so lobster shells and corn cobs can be repurposed for stock.


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