Happy July 4th! After nearly three months on the road (book tour and new book research), I’ll be home with my family. That means Martha’s Vineyard—just in time for our fantastic small town (but very big-hearted) Independence Day parade up Main Street in Edgartown, followed by fireworks over the harbor viewed from the beach.
For dinner this year, we’re planning a twist on a New England classic: grill-top clambake. Traditional clambake is cooked in a fire-heated underground pit, of course—a dramatic process—but one more akin to steaming than grilling. This version comes, you guessed it, screaming hot off the grill.
The secret to the grill-top clambake is to divide and conquer—that is, grill each course separately rather than all heaped together in a pit. One advantage of this approach is that you get to blast the various ingredients with smoke and fire flavors. Another is that you get to cook each to the precise degree of doneness you like.
You’ll start with a Portuguese-American classic: grilled clams with linguica. The Portuguese arrived in coastal New England in the 19th century to help man the whaling ships that sailed from every port in Massachusetts—including Vineyard Haven and Edgartown. Their legacy lives on in the local popularity of linguica—a garlicky sausage spiced up with wine vinegar and paprika. If all goes well, we’ll dig littleneck clams on the morning of July 4th, then grill them over a wood-enhanced fire just long enough to open the shells. (Use a shellfish rack to hold the clams flat, so you don’t spill the juices into the fire.) Once cooked, the clams go into an onion-linguica-wine broth kept warm in a pan on the grill (which eliminates the need for split second timing). To soak up that clam and wine broth, you’ll serve garlic bread—toasted on the grill.