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Emeril Lagasse has become a ubiquitous and beloved elder statesman of the American dining scene, but 25 years ago he was just striking out on his own after a successful seven-year run at New Orleans’ famous Commander’s Palace restaurant. The opening of Emeril’s in the city’s Warehouse District on March 26, 1990 ushered in a “New New Orleans cuisine” revolution. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of this momentous occasion, the restaurant will be hosting a celebration for the entire month of March, with weekly throwback menus to the restaurant’s earliest days, special wine pairings, and celebratory dinners. We spoke with Emeril about the restaurant’s beginnings, the New Orleans dining scene in 1990, and his favorite items on the menu.
The Daily Meal: When you first set out to open Emeril’s, what type of restaurant were you looking to open? What was your blueprint?
Emeril Lagasse: Well, [Commanders Palace owner] Ella Brennan and I had talked about doing something together, and I felt that the Warehouse District needed a pioneer. There was a great space across the street from my apartment, but it was abandoned. I decided I’d give it a shot. I wanted it to be a white tablecloth restaurant, one that would be great for locals and encourage them to come out to the Warehouse District. We’ve had some renovations over the years, we’ve added a little space, but what you see today is what we set out to accomplish. The heart and soul are still all there.
What was the moment you realized that you had something really special on your hands?
We had no money when we opened. The neighborhood was so bad that we had to carry a gun with us! It was crazy. Things started making sense when the first major review came out, by Gene Bourg at the Times-Picayune. I was so nervous, I was sweating, I was sick to my stomach, and we got one of the best reviews in the history of New Orleans. A few months later John Mariani wrote that we were the best new restaurant in the country. Now we had to think about how we were going to live up to the expectations. Talk about pressure!
How would you describe the New Orleans dining scene when Emeril’s first opened?
When Emeril’s opened it was the first new restaurant to open in New Orleans in quite some time. There had been no new restaurants to open in New Orleans in five years because of the recession, so there really wasn’t any action whatsoever. It’s hard to imagine that now, because it’s insane right now. It’s amazing to see how the city has evolved.
Which dishes on the menu are you most proud of?
My barbecue shrimp will always be on the menu, and the banana cream pie with a banana crust and caramel is also something I’m really proud of.
When you think back over the past 25 years, what are your fondest memories of Emeril’s?
We’ve served lots of famous actors and actresses, and I’m a musician at heart so to be able to serve people like Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra is incredible. But at the end of the day, to see my restaurant half-full with people I know by name – and I also probably know their kids and their parents – you really just can’t beat that.
What Is Emeril Lagasse's Most Requested Recipe After 25 Years in the Business?
Emeril Lagasse is one of the most successful chefs and Food Network stars of all time, and this month marks the 25th anniversary of where it all began: Emeril’s New Orleans.
The flagship restaurant, which many site as the birthplace of the Big Easy’s food revolution, is hosting a month-long celebration culminating with three nights of dinners (March 26th-29th) hosted by Emeril himself.
To commemorate the event, the James Beard winner shared with PEOPLE a recipe inspired by his most requested dish of all time, Emeril’s New Orleans BBQ Shrimp.
RELATED: Get a Taste of the LuckyRice Festival in N.Y.C.
Q Shrimp is a very New Orleans dish, but pretty messy, because you have to peel the shrimp,” Emeril says. “I wanted to give my customers the great flavor of this dish but suited for a white tablecloth fine dining restaurant. So I peeled the shrimp and used the shells for the sauce.”
Emeril has long been a fan of utilizing sauces rather than marinades, and it seems the philosophy has been a successful one. “It’s been on the menu since day one and is still, hands down, the number one dish,” he says of the saucy BBQ Shrimp.
The only rule for cooking this legendary dish? You have to yell M” when you finish, of course.
RELATED: You Need These 4 Free Restaurant Apps in Your Life (and On Your Phone) Right Now
Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp
3 lbs. large gulf shrimp, in shells
3 lemons, peeled and sectioned
1. Peel shrimp, leaving tails attached. Reserve shells and set aside. Coat shrimp with 1 tbsp. Creole seasoning and black pepper, refrigerate.
2. To make BBQ base sauce, heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large pot over high heat. Once hot, add onions and garlic, sauté for 1 minute.
3. Add reserved shrimp shells, remaining Creole seasoning, bay leaves, lemons, water, worcestershire, wine, salt, and black pepper.
4. Stir well and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, strain into a small saucepan.
5. Bring strained sauce to a boil cook 15 minutes until dark, thick and syrupy.
6. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in a large skillet over high heat, add the cold seasoned shrimp when oil is hot and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add cream and entire BBQ base, stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove shrimp to a warm platter. Whisk butter into sauce, then remove from the heat and spoon the sauce over the shrimp and around plate.
Emeril's Celebrates 25th Anniversary, Chef Shares Lessons Learned
Emeril Lagasse hasn&rsquot always been a brand.
Today, the chef is a household name, TV celebrity, cookbook author and the man behind a dozen restaurants and countless culinary products.
But 25 years ago this month, Lagasse opened his first restaurant in New Orleans: Emeril&rsquos, located at 800 Tchoupitoulas in the Warehouse District. It was a risky move on every front. The neighborhood was dicey, an industrial swathe without streetlights – never mind a white tablecloth restaurant.
Emeril Lagasse, on the line with his team &mdash Photo courtesy of Emeril's
And although Lagasse&rsquos culinary cache was informed by his tenure at Commander&rsquos Palace – where the Fall River, Mass., native replaced Paul Prudhomme at the tender age of 23 – flying solo was a bold move. He had trouble getting financing. Purveyors demanded payments in cash.
But it wasn&rsquot long before Lagasse&rsquos original restaurant was drawing crowds and critical raves. Within six months, a five-bean review in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and an endorsement from John Mariani in Esquire had locals and visitors lining up out the door.
The ways in which his creativity changed the game for Creole cuisine in New Orleans and beyond can&rsquot be overestimated. With insights earned over a quarter-century, Lagasse reflects on his career and hard-learned restaurant acumen for 10Best:
Q: What is the one thing you wish you'd known about the business 25 years ago?
A: I was inexperienced about design and working with an architect I wish I&rsquod been better prepared for that. I knew what I wanted it to feel like, and to look like. But the nitty-gritty – I wish I would have had better knowledge.
Secondly, I never really thought about the accounting part. The wine list, hiring, training, saucing interviewing – that was all good. But I never thought about the whole financial aspect. We were fortunate. I had established a great local clientele, and they came.
Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement (so far)?
A: For a restaurant to stay in business 25 years and still be cutting edge is amazing. We&rsquore still learning, mentoring, teaching and evolving. My team is highly motivated, and we&rsquore having a lot of fun together.
Q: We learn from our mistakes. What is one that taught you an important lesson?
A: I&rsquod say I would have been more cautious about our growth. In the early years, I just jumped in, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn&rsquot.
Now, I&rsquom very protective of our growth: I analyze the marketplace, culture and people before we make any commitment. I get approached about a New York location all the time. We could have 30 restaurants there. But we don&rsquot have one. It has to be the right fit for us to grow.
Q: What is the greatest change you've seen in the restaurant business in 25 years?
A: People are more educated about food and wine, and the expectations are a lot higher. I&rsquom sure glad that I had the mentorship of Ella Brennan, who guided me to not only be a good cook, but a good restaurateur.
Q: Although you have restaurants in other cities, you love New Orleans. What makes this city special to you?
A: I fell in love with this city in the '80s for its people, music, food and architecture. Its European influences make New Orleans a unique experience in America.
Q: How do you see the city's food scene changed since Katrina?
A: When Katrina happened it devastated everything and everyone. We were all in shock. My staff had 38 different zip codes. I couldn&rsquot go down to Wal-mart and buy a walk-in cooler. It took a while to get back on track.
Now, business is bustling everywhere, and there&rsquos more competition, more ethnic places, really good chefs from other places moving here. Competition is healthy. It keeps us on our game.
Q: What's your favorite way to use social media?
A: When it first started, I was a big Twitter fan and I still am. But now, I&rsquom more into Instagram for sharing photos and memories.
Q: What is the one dish you could never take off the menu at Emeril's?
A: It has to be the barbecued shrimp. People would go crazy. We go through 50 pounds of shrimp a day sometimes. That and the banana cream pie.
Q: You do a lot of work with kids. What one piece of advice would you give a young chef?
A: I think everybody, no matter what occupation, you&rsquore trying to learn. Everybody needs a mentor. And you have to keep learning. If you don&rsquot learn something new every day, you&rsquore cheating yourself.
Q: What&rsquos your "guilty pleasure" when it comes to food?
A: Frozen Zapps potato chips. That and leftover take-out fried rice.
Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer based in New Orleans. She'll only eat Emeril's recipe for banana cream pie.
Emeril’s Famous Banana Cream Pie
When I mention Edie Falco, you probably think of Carmela Soprano. I’ve barely seen more than the pilot and finale of The Sopranos, an embarrassing fact for a TV addict like me. I have to watch it one day. Since I’m a Sopranos novice, I think of Jackie Peyton, the main character on Nurse Jackie, when I think of Edie Falco.
Nurse Jackie is one of my favorite shows on TV. It’s smart, touching, and one of the few shows that actually makes me laugh out loud, typically multiple times each episode. The thirty minutes fly by, as I forget to even glance at the clock. The credits roll far too soon, leaving me hungry for another episode.
Jackie is, of course, a nurse. She is great at her job and cares about her patients as she does her family, fighting for the best for those around her. She is a flawed person, having battled drug addiction which left her marriage in shambles. Her desire to be a good person and do the right thing despite her flaws is inspiring and quite relatable. She, like all of us, is just trying to do the best she can, which isn’t always good enough.
If you haven’t watched Nurse Jackie, perhaps you can catch up on Netflix or OnDemand. It is definitely worth seeking out. I would actually love to start watching from the beginning again.
Mom also loves the show, even if she hates to admit a Showtime show, full of swearing and adult situations, is one of her favorites. It’s one of the many things we bond over. Another is this Banana Cream Pie. She has always loved banana cream pie and wanted to make it, and I’ve never had it before! Ever! Can you believe that? Some high quality graham crackers from Zingerman’s inspired me to get in the kitchen and make one.
I used the famous recipe from Emeril’s New Orleans, as featured by Wolfgang Puck on the Best Thing I Ever Ate. Since I’ll unfortunately probably never get to New Orleans, I figured I’d make it to see what all the fuss is about. Let me tell you, this did not disappoint one bit. I loved every bite and can’t wait to make it again . . . maybe with some peanut butter. I made my first ever graham cracker crust, which was perfectly thick, crunchy, and slightly grainy, providing structure and texture to the layered bananas and thick, velvety vanilla bean pastry cream. And then because it’s my favorite thing on Earth, I topped it with Italian meringue, which is lighter and a little sweeter than whipped cream. Together the flavors and textures are a pretty unspeakably amazing combination. My prescription: make this pie and watch Nurse Jackie.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
But letâ€™s get back to these cookies I made. You can use any cookie recipe you want and use the temperature indicated in the recipe.
What you need:
- 1/2 cup butter- softened
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 1tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Whip together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar- use an electric mixer if you can
- Add the egg and vanilla and mix
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and the salt in a sperate bowl, then slowly mix the dry mixture into the butter mixture until creamy
- Add all the chocolate chips and walnuts (if adding any. Refrigerate the dough for an hour.
- Divide the dough into 24 portions. Scoop 12 of the portions into a baking pan. (we got nine on there)
- Slide the pizza rack into shelf position #5
- Use the BAKE setting- 325 F/ 30 minutes. Press the start button. When the Power AirFryer 360 beeps then it is preheated. Place the baking pan/cookies on the rack. Bake until the cookies are done- 12 minutes!
- Let the cookies cool and ENJOY.
Want to know more about this amazing AirFryer?
Please read this post– plus a recipe for STUFFED BURGERS or check out the Emeril Power Airfryer 360 website.
I’m going to save so much time during this school year because dinners won’t have to be so complicated. Plus the kids can make their snacks without using the oven. Most kids won’t use the oven if it requires baking or maybe its just mine!
You can find the Emerilâ€™s Power AirFryer 360 on Amazon, Kohlâ€™s, and Walmart.
I love chocolate chip cookies awesome recipe
I would love to make some air fryer cookies!
You can literally make everything with an airfryer! I need to get one.
I would not have thought of using an air fryer for cookies. These look really good.
How interesting! I didn’t know an air fryer had so many uses.
These recipes sound so good. I do have an air fryer but not like this one. This one sounds like I could make a lot more things in it. Thank you so much for sharing
I’ve never heard of air fryer cookies. What a neat concept. Thanks for sharing!
YUM! The brown sugar makes them crunchy! Wish I had an air fryer!
I have an older air fryer and need to upgrade! These cookies look delicious – I need to try making more things when I get a new AF.
I would love to try cookies in the air fryer. Or anything.
Chocolate chip cookies are awesome. I need an air fryer. Sounds like this one will make everything
I went straight to the website. Awesome product and will try to get an air fryer soon as possible. Thanks for the review
What an awesome recipe! I had no idea you could bake cookies in an Air-Fryer!!
I have yet to try one but really want to..
I have never heard of using an air fryer for cookies. That is really clever!
Never made cookies in my air fryer I will have to try it.
I am just finding time to work my Emeril Lagasse 360 Air Fryer, which I bought from Best Buys about 3 mo’s ago. Good price, beautiful looking, easy to use AND, easy to clean…just wipe down with damp cloth. I am 73 yrs old, live in NH & retired @ the end of 2019. I baked forever & now looking to make my life a little more simple, since I am always on the go. Now I have watched Emeril’s utube on making cookies before Christmas… OMG. I baked 2 of his cookies Chocolate Cookies & his Peanut Butter Cookies. They came out the perfect right size, light golden color & very tasty. No fuss & no mess. I will NEVER go back to my stove oven. Today is New Year 2020 & I cannot wait until tomorrow… this in when I will make Apple Cookies.I never once thought of baking cookies in this oven, until I saw a recipe in Emeril’s free recipe book on Chocolate Chip cookies. Now I will be checking out more often, his Utube Videos. Thank you Emeril for making my life more simple & enjoyable.
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- 1 pound ground dark-meat chicken
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Pita pockets, for serving
- Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers, for serving
- Minted yogurt sauce (optional, below), for serving
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
Heat broiler, with rack in highest position. In a large bowl, combine chicken, egg whites, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, and spices and mix until well blended. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Divide chicken mixture into 8 portions (about 2 1/2 to 3 ounces each) and place on sheet. Shape each into an oval patty and use your hand to flatten slightly. Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over patties.
Broil until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes more. Serve in pita pockets, with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Minted Yogurt Sauce, if desired.
In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, mint, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 hour, to allow flavors to come together.
Emeril Lagasse Reflects on 25 Years of Emeril’s - Recipes
Wedgwood is quintessentially English. It has a tradition of innovation, quality and craftsmanship and its designs are widely acknowledged as timeless, elegant, classic and understated. The design teams also work with external product designs for cross-pollination of ideas, experience and work methods. The Company philosophy is that its products are not only a pleasure to be enjoyed today, but are also a treasure for the future - many consumers buy only Wedgwood to be handed down as a family heirloom.
Wedgwood was founded by Josiah Wedgwood, the &lsquoFather of English Potters&rsquo, in 1759. His first big success - and perhaps the greatest contribution to the British pottery industry - was the production of the first cream-colored earthenware. Later called Queen&rsquos Ware by the Royal assent of Queen Charlotte in 1765, this inexpensive earthenware put fine, beautiful tableware within reach of a much wider range of consumers. Wedgwood&rsquos most famous commission in Queen&rsquos Ware was a 952 piece dinner and dessert service for Empress Catherine II of Russia in 1773/74, which featured free-hand paintings of 1,244 different English Scenes.
Wedgwood also produced a wide variety of ornamental ware and in 1768 developed Black Basalt, a fine black stoneware that has remained popular through three centuries and is used on vases, busts, cameos and teaware.
After years of searching for the right ingredients and thousands of experiments, Wedgwood perfected Jasperware - a very fine-grained stoneware, colored throughout the body. Jasper was prized by Wedgwood above all his creations and, until his death in 1795, he devoted much of his energy to producing a wide range of pieces from cameos to portrait medallions to chessmen and candlesticks in many different colors.
Jasperware is synonymous with the Wedgwood name and has been produced continually for more than 200 years. Although today it is produced using more streamlined production techniques, in essence the methods used are the same as those used by Josiah Wedgwood in the 18th century, with every bas-relief decoration applied by hand.
"We are proud of the world-wide celebrations of Wedgwood's 250th anniversary. We need to reflect on our remarkable heritage, as well as the extraordinary legacy of our founder, Josiah Wedgwood. It is a time to focus on a new and exciting future with the many supporters of our great brand."
Emeril’s Culinary Garden & Teaching Kitchen curriculum includes an outline (scope and sequence) of the program standards, learning objectives and the recommended teaching order for grades K-8 garden and kitchen lessons one complete lesson plan per grade for garden and kitchen editable lesson plan templates for instructors to create their own lesson plans and an appendix of resource materials to support instruction.
Scope and Sequence
The scope and sequence includes 18 suggested lesson activities per grade for both the garden and kitchen courses of instruction. All activities support the program’s standards, meet the program’s learning objectives and are aligned to national academic standards.
The program standards include anchor standards and grade-level standards. Anchor standards are broad end point goals that span a grade cluster (a series of grades): K-2, 3-5 or 6-8. The anchor standards are further supported by specific grade level standards. Instructors working with varied student readiness have the flexibility to adjust within the program by referencing the program standards.
Lessons are designed to last approximately 45 minutes and can easily be adapted for instructional needs. If a lesson requires more time, it is indicated on the scope and sequence for instructors. There is one type of garden lesson and two types of kitchen lessons—cooking concept and cooking. All lessons begin with a brief engaging activity and end with time for students to reflect and discuss what they learned and/or experienced. Garden lessons and cooking concept lessons follow the 5E Instructional Model from the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS). Cooking lessons follow one of Emeril’s recipes to guide the instruction sequence. The 5E model is a student-centered approach that sequences instruction using the following terms: engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate. Students become the center of their learning experience through hands-on activities, develop their own understanding of a concept and then relate their understanding to other concepts. Lesson plan templates for garden and kitchen that follow the instruction sequence are included in the Appendix of the program implementation playbook and in the Resources tab of this portal for instructors to use when creating their own lesson plans.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons), plus 1 lemon, sliced, for serving
- 1 pound strawberries (3 cups), hulled and halved
- 16 ounces seltzer, chilled
- Mint sprigs, for serving
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water and sugar to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, 2 minutes. Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until cool, about 45 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir to combine.
In a blender, puree strawberries until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into pitcher with lemon syrup, pressing on solids. Stir well to combine.
To serve, stir in seltzer and divide among ice-filled glasses. Top with lemon slices and mint.
Emeril’s Passover Brisket — Tasty and Tender All Year Long!
First things first–we’re not Jewish, so I’m not trying to pretend I’m some sort of expert on Passover meals. But as a Christian, sharing a good portion of our scriptures with them, I am a fan of Jewish traditions. For similar reasons, and because of the importance of the Passover tradition in the Easter story (the Last Supper was either a Passover meal or preparation for Passover, depending on who you ask), Colleen’s father started teaching the rituals of the Seder for their church years ago, and has purchased all the place settings and items to go along with it. Last year, we asked him to conduct a Seder for our Sunday School class at Rose Drive Friends Church, and we turned it into a potluck, with each family bringing items from a traditional Passover dinner.
The Last Supper, by Leonardo Da Vinci. Not pictured: Emeril’s Passover Brisket.
As a fan of meat, and having had mixed success with smoked brisket in the past, I immediately volunteered to do a brisket as a main course, figuring I’d find a recipe somewhere. Colleen put a shout out to some of our Jewish friends on Facebook and elsewhere for some of their family recipes, but while we did get good recipes for Charoset and Matzoh Ball Soup, we didn’t get anything for brisket.
I’ve always heard that Passover brisket (well, all brisket, actually) can be tough and bland and fatty, and I am way too proud to bring a tough, bland, and fatty piece of meat to a potluck, so I turned to everyone’s favorite Jewish chef, Emeril Lagasse, and his “Passover Brisket” recipe.
Okay, maybe he’s not Jewish, either. But we’ve almost never gone wrong with an Emeril recipe, and I was confident that while it might still be tough or fatty, it definitely wouldn’t be bland. And in doing my research, I found many comments and blogs referencing serving this brisket at legit Seders at legit Jewish homes, so I don’t think I cheated too much by using his recipe.
In the end, it was great! It turned out tender and tasty, and not only was it great for Passover, but it was probably the best non-bbq/smoked style brisket we’d ever had. With briskets running anywhere from 5-10 pounds, I can highly recommend this brisket if you need to feed a crowd for any occasion.
Raw materials for Emeril’s Passover Brisket.
Trimming the fat off the brisket. Definitely will help make it less fatty.
A boatload of garlic. It is an Emeril recipe, after all…
Brisket studded with garlic slivers.
After it has browned on top a bit, flip it over.
The other side of the browned brisket.
Brisket cooked, with beef broth.
Salt, pepper, Emeril’s Essence, onion powder, and garlic pepper.
Previous dry ingredients mixed with ketchup, chili sauce, and brown sugar.
Emeril Lagasse’s New England Clam Boil Recipe
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.
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.