Emeril Lagasse’s New England Clam Boil Recipe

Portrait by Sam Kerr

Long before he became an expert on New Orleans cuisine, chef Emeril Lagasse learned how to whip up southeastern Massachusetts staples such as the Portuguese-style clam boil in his parents’ Fall River kitchen. Follow his tips:

  • Spice it up with Portuguese sausage. “My family always used chouriço, but linguiça is good, too,” Lagasse says, recommending versions made by Michael’s Provision Co. and Gaspar’s Sausage Co.
  • Source and handle seafood with care, trusting your nose and eyes. “The best clams were from Tiverton, and I remember driving there with Dad to get several sacks,” Lagasse says.
  • Season with Old Bay, salt, garlic, and tarragon, then taste, then season again as necessary. “Follow your taste buds, and you can’t go wrong,” he adds.


Serves 6

1 c. white vinegar
3 lemons halved, plus 3 lemons quartered
3 heads garlic, halved crosswise
3 onions, peeled, root end left intact, quartered
½ c. Old Bay seasoning
¼ c. salt
2 lbs. small new potatoes
2 lbs. chourico, linguica, or other sausage, cut into 2-in. lengths
4 ears fresh sweet corn, husked, silk removed, cut into thirds
Four 1 ½- to 2-lb. lobsters
5 lbs. little neck clams, scrubbed
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1/2 bunch tarragon, chopped
2 loaves crusty French bread, warmed, for serving

Add 6 quarts water, vinegar, the halved lemons (squeeze the juice into the pot before adding), garlic, onion, ¼ cup of the Old Bay, and the salt to a large boiling pot (30-quart recommended). Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a brisk simmer and cook for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Layer the ingredients in a 30-quart steamer basket in the following order: potatoes, sausage, corn, lobster, then the clams. It is okay for some of the clams to fall through and fill the gaps of the other ingredients. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup Old Bay. Lower the basket into the pot. Cover with the lid.

Steam for 20 to 25 minutes until the lobster is done and the clams are opened.

While the clams are steaming: In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the tarragon, remove from the heat and allow it to steep for 10 minutes.

Cover a large table with plenty of newspaper. Carefully remove the strainer insert from the pot and invert onto the newspaper. Discard any clams that may not have opened. Serve with the lemon quarters, tarragon butter, and bread.


See more from our summer dining guide:

How to Eat Like a New Englander