Ina Garten’s Kitchen Clambake: ‘This Is About as Easy as It Gets’

TL; DR: 

  • Ina Garten “finally got smart” after years of doing clambakes at the beach for her Barefoot Contessa store.
  • She prefers to do kitchen clambakes for an easier experience all-around. 
  • The cookbook author learned other tips running her Barefoot Contessa store. 
Ina Garten, who has a kitchen clambake recipe, stands in her 'barn'
Ina Garten | Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

Ina Garten clambakes aren’t done at the beach. In true Barefoot Contessa style, not unlike taking corn off the cob or cutting cauliflower, she came up with an easier way of doing things. Instead of cooking at the beach, she prefers kitchen clambakes.

Ina Garten ‘got smart’ after years of clambakes on the beach

Sharing her kitchen clambake recipe in 1999’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Garten explained why she prefers not to do them at the beach.

“For years at Barefoot Contessa, we made this clambake at the beach,” she began. “Not only did we have to dig a pit for cooking, but we had to deal with all that wind and sand and darkness.”

Garten continued, saying she “finally got smart and decided to make a clambake in the kitchen.” Not only is it “made in one huge pot,” she explained, but there’s “no sand.” 

Garten, who has another Barefoot Contessa cookbook on the way, shared why she likes kitchen clambakes on her Food Network show. It’s an entire meal in one pot, she doesn’t have to carry everything to and from the beach, and, of course, there’s no sand in the food. 

Ina Garten’s kitchen clambake is ready in 1 hour

Garten’s kitchen clambake makes the classic summer cookout as much of a “How easy is that?” moment as possible. She doesn’t have to lug pots, pans, and all of the ingredients to the beach only to end up with sand in the food. 

Rather, she sautés kielbasa with onions and leeks in a stockpot (she suggests 16-20 quarts) before adding the rest of the ingredients. “This is about as easy as it gets, isn’t it?” she said as she loaded everything in the pot.

According to Food Network, she advises putting the potatoes in first along with some salt and pepper. Then the kielbasa, little neck clams, steam clams, mussels, shrimp, and lobster, before topping it off with white wine.

Garten leaves it on the stove, covered, to cook for 15 minutes on medium-high heat. She turns it down to low for another 15 minutes when steam comes out of the top. At that point, Garten’s kitchen clambake is done. 

All she has left to do is check the potatoes are tender, the lobsters are cooked, and the clams and mussels are opened. From there, she cuts the lobster and transfers the rest of the seafood to a bowl with potatoes and sausages. Next, Garten seasons the remaining broth in the pot to taste. Finally, she serves ladles the broth over top before serving. 

All in all, Garten’s kitchen clambake takes an estimated 60 minutes to make from start to finish. Half of the time is dedicated to prep and the other to cooking. 

Garten learned other tips and tricks running Barefoot Contessa

The Barefoot Contessa no longer has her food store in the Hamptons. However, the lessons she learned running Barefoot Contessa for decades are clear in her recipes and entertaining tips. 

Not only did she learn clambakes are better made at home than on the beach, but she also learned the importance of making simple meals

“If we spent all day making rosemary roast leg of lamb, we wouldn’t have anything to sell! So I’ve taught myself how to use good, fresh ingredients and to prepare them as simply as possible by cooking only to enhance their intrinsic flavors,” she once wrote in a Martha Stewart column. 

Additionally, she learned the value of make-ahead dishes. Garten even wrote an entire cookbook dedicated to food that can be made in advance. 

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