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Feast at the beach: crabs, clams, cod, corn--all in one pot. How to throw an old-fashioned seafood boil, West Coast-style.

FOR ALL OF THE WEST'S great outdoor traditions, clambakes and lobster boils have typically been the other coast's domain. But the Northwest's craggy coastline always reminded Portland chef Jason French of Maine, where he spent summers as a child. "Summer was all about cookouts on the beach," says French, who owns Ned Ludd restaurant. "Such freedom, running wild, with this huge ocean in front of us."

Once he had kids of his own, French was inspired to resurrect the tradition here using the local bounty So he and chef John Gorham, a fellow East Coast transplant and owner of Portland's Toro Bravo restaurant group, packed up their families and their 20-quart pots and headed to the coast.

Today, Gorham and French are crisscrossing kindling for a fire on Oregon's Rockaway Beach, while their wives, kids, and friends collect driftwood to build a camp. Once the fire gets going, the method is easy: Add a few inches of seawater to a pot, layer seafood and vegetables (tied up in cheesecloth pouches) in order of longest-to-shortest cooking time, and boil away.

"Think of it as a stack of Japanese bamboo steamers, only a lot more rustic," Gorham says.

"In Maine, we did this in 50-gallon trash cans," adds French. "That was rustic."

After about half an hour, the chefs hoist the pot from the fire, open the steamy pouches, and pour the crabs, cod, clams, and vegetables onto a newspaper-lined table. Though the boil is simple, Gorham and French give it their own spin with the homemade condiments: a tartar sauce with lots of pickles and an herb-laden salsa verde.

Each person builds his or her plate, customizing along the way--extra clams for one, no onions for another--and settles down on a blanket. After finishing off a cake topped with campfire-cooked fruit, everyone rinses off their sticky fingers in the waves. "As much as I love a Maine lobster bake," says French, "I'd say the food is a lot better with John and me cooking."



Everything you need to throw your own party on the beach


French and Gorham clean and cut vegetables and fruit ahead of time, packing the components for each dish in separate containers. "You don't want the adventure of the day to be ruined because you didn't prep," says French.


For cooking, they use a 20-quart canning pot. You'll also need: cheese-cloth, kitchen scissors, tongs, barbecue mitts, a propane lighter, a cutting board, a chef's knife, a dutch oven, wooden spoon, and serving dishes and tools.


Check that your beach allows fires. The chefs built theirs in a pit, using a grate with legs (Stansport camp grill, from $22;, but a charcoal grill grate set on bricks will also work.



For an element of surprise, Jason French spreads basil puree on the plate, rather than tossing it with the other ingredients. This also helps keep the salad crisp.

3/4 cup plus 5 to 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 qt. loosely packed fresh basil leaves (4 oz.)
About 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
5 or 6 Persian cucumbers or 1 1/2 English
cucumbers, cut into chunks
5 small heads Little Gem * lettuce or 3 hearts
of romaine, torn into pieces
About 2 tbsp. lemon juice
10 oz. fresh goat cheese

1. Put 3/4 cup oil in a blender, add a few
basil leaves, and pulse to blend. Continue
pulsing as you add more leaves and
1 small ice cube (it helps move the leaves
around); blend until mixture is smooth.
Season with about 1 tsp. salt.

2. Put cucumbers and lettuce in a large
bowl, add 5 to 6 tbsp. oil and the lemon
juice, and toss to coat evenly. Season
with about 1/4 tsp. salt and toss again.

3. Spread basil puree on plates or a large
platter, top with greens and cucumbers,
and crumble goat cheese on top. Serve
right away.

* Find Little Gem lettuce, a mini romaine, at
farmers' markets.

MAKE AHEAD: For basil puree and lettuce, up to 1 day,
chilled; bring basil puree to room temperature.

PER SERVING 335 Cal., 86% (287 Cal.) from fat; 7.6g protein;
33g fat (9.4g sot.); 5.3g carbo (1.2g fiber); 341mg sodium;
22mg chol. GF/LS/V



It's hard to control a fire's heat precisely, but these ingredients are forgiving. This can also be done on your home stove (use a 20-qt. canning pot).

Seawater (or regular water plus 1/2 cup kosher salt)
3 lbs. small Red Bliss, German Butterball, or
other new potatoes (about 30)
10 ears corn on the cob, ends trimmed,
husks pulled down to remove silk, then
pulled back up
3 lbs. littleneck clams (25 to 40), scrubbed
and rinsed
2 lbs. lingcod, true cod, or black cod fillets,
about 1 in. thick
5 lbs. Dungeness crabs (about 3), steamed,
cleaned, quartered, and cracked
10 small red torpedo onions, peeled, or
2 large red onions, peeled and quartered
10 Turkish (not California) boy leaves
Tartar Sauce and Italian-Style Salsa Verde

1. Dig a pit and build a fire in it (see "The Fire," page 68,
for other setup options, or use a firepit with a built-in
grate). Let fire burn to medium-high, spread out logs as
needed; if using your own grate, set it in place.

2. Fill a 20-qt. canning pot with 4 in. seawater or salted
regular water. Cover and heat to simmering over
fire or over high heat on stove.

3. Wrap potatoes, corn (divided into 2 bundles), clams, and
cod separately in cheesecloth: Cut five 30-in, lengths of
cheesecloth. Unfold a cheesecloth length to yield a
double-thick piece. Lay it on a table, pile the ingredient
in the center, pull up two opposing corners, and tie
loosely. Repeat with other corners, creating a pouch that's
secure but loose enough for ingredients to spread out
in more or less a single layer.

4. Put potato pouch, loose onions, and bay leaves in
canning insert, and when water is boiling, lower into pot.
Cook, covered, 10 minutes. Add cod pouch, then clams,
and top with loose crabs. Cover and cook 8 to 10 minutes more;
cod should be opaque, the crab should be warmed through, and
clams should open (though it may be difficult to check).

5. Using tongs, transfer the bundles of ingredients to a
newspaper-lined table or into large bowls. Put corn bundles
into canning insert and into boiling water; cook until tender,
about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, drain off any water from bundles
in bowls. Snip open cheesecloth and pour ingredients out
onto platters or a fresh spot on the covered table. Throw away
any unopened dams. Serve with Tartar Sauce and Italian-Style
Salsa Verde.

PER SERVING WITHOUT SAUCES 427 Cal., 9% (40 Col.) From fat;
52g protein; 4.5g fat (0.6g sat.); 46g carbo (4.8g fiber);
814mg sodium; 137mg chol. LC

TARTAR SAUCE Combine 3/4 cup each extra-virgin olive oil and
grapeseed oil in a glass measuring cup. Put 3 large egg yolks,
3/4 tsp. kosher salt, 3 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. each Dijon
mustard and Champagne vinegar, 1/4 tsp. sugar, and a pinch
of cayenne in a blender or food processor. With motor running,
gradually add oil in a steady stream. Scrape into a bowl
and fold in 1 tbsp. each chopped capers and parsley and 2
tbsp. each chopped dill pickles, tarragon, and chives.
Taste and adjust salt, lemon, vinegar, or cayenne; you want
the flavor to be zippy. Makes 1 3/4 cups / 25 minutes. Make
ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled.

PER TBSP. 110 Cal., 98% (107 Cal.) from fat; 0.3g protein; 12
Fat (1 6g sat.); 0.4g carbo (0g fiber); 61mg sodium; 22mg chol.V

ITALIAN-STYLE SALSA VERDE In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup
coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley; 1/4 cup each coarsely
chopped chives, fennel fronds or dill, mint leaves, tarragon,
and shallots; 2 tbsp. finely chopped capers; 2 tsp. coarsely
chopped sage leaves; and 3/4 tsp. kosher salt. Whisk in 1 1/4
cups fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust salt.
Chill overnight, if possible, so flavors can marry. Makes
1 3/4 cups / 20 minutes. Make ahead: Up to 1 day, chilled;
serve at room temp.

PER TBSP. 88 Cal., 98% (86 Cal.) from lot; 0.2g protein; 10g fat
(1.4g sat.); 0.5g corbo (0.2g fiber); 60mg sodium; 0mg chol.


The chefs pile ingredients into a pot filled with ocean water. Oysters for appetizers grill next to the pot. The cooked seafood is laid out and served with Italian-Style Salsa Verde.






Gorham's dense but moist cake, which he makes before heading to the beach, soaks up juice from the fruit. You'll need a 10-in. round cake pan that's 2 in. deep *.


2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. lightly packed lemon zest
3 tbsp. lemon juice Campfire-Glazed Peaches and Figs
(recipe at far right)
Sweetened whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 375[degrees]. Butter a 10-in. round and
2-in.-deep cake pan. Set a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit,
inside, then butter parchment and dust pan with flour. Set aside.

2. Beat eggs in a large bowl with a mixer,
using the whisk attachment, until frothy.
Gradually add sugar and beat on high
speed until mixture is pale and leaves
a ribbon when you lift whisk, 6 to 8
minutes; scrape bowl halfway through.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking
soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Whisk milk, oil, and lemon zest and juice
together in a large measuring cup.

4. Add one-third of dry ingredients, then
half of wet ingredients to egg mixture,
beating after each addition until smooth;
continue until all are added and stop a
couple of times to scrape inside of bowl.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan and set
in oven. Immediately turn down heat to
350[degrees]. Bake until cake pulls away from
pan and a toothpick inserted in center
comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.

6. Cool on a rack 15 minutes, then loosen
cake from pan with a knife. Turn out
onto a plate, remove parchment, and
carefully flip cake back onto rack. Let
cool completely.

* Find at

MAKE AHEAD: Up to 2 days, wrapped airtight.



This dessert has all the virtue of fresh fruit with just a hint of indulgence from the browned butter and sugar. And it's equally good made on a home stove.

4 tbsp. unsalted butter
6 tbsp. sugar
Generous pinch kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split
2 1/2 lbs. peaches or nectarines (about 5),
pitted and cut into 12-in, wedges
1 1/4 lbs. figs (1 1/2 pts.), stems trimmed,
halved or quartered if large

1. Make a fire in a pit that has a built-in grate, or bricks
(see "The Fire," page 68, for other setups). Let fire burn
until embers are red-hot but there are no flames, then spread
out. Set grate in place.

2. Put butter, sugar, and salt in a large, heavy dutch oven
or enameled cast-iron pot. Scrape vanilla seeds into pot and
add bean. Set pot on grate over fire or on stove over
medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until mixture turns golden
brown and frothy and begins to smell like caramel, 3 to 6 minutes.

3. Add fruit and stir to coat. Cover pot and cook, stirring
occasionally, until fruit has released some juice and is glossy and
glazed but not mushy, 2 to 4 minutes.

MAKE AHEAD: Cut fruit the morning of your outing (toss peaches with
2 tbsp. lemon juice) and chill airtight in a cooler.

PER SERVING OF CAKE WITH FRUIT 508 Cal., 43% (220 Cal.)
from fat; 4.8g protein; 25g fat (6.3g sat.); 70g carbo
(3.3g fiber); 225mg sodium; 49mg chol. LS/V

Learn how to build a campfire:

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Author:Holmberg, Martha
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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