Every year while I was growing up we had a family clam bake. At first they were held at my Grandparents farm, later they were held at my Aunt Sue and Uncle Jerry’s. The menu was pretty much always the same. There were steamed clams that were put inside this huge square cooker and cooked on site and everyone brought sides and desserts to go with them. My Mom’s job was to make baked chicken. My Aunt Sue was always so happy that my Mom would bring the chicken… she said she hated making it. My Mom once asked why and she said hers never turned out as good as my mom’s…. but I think the real issue was the mess it made in the oven. Aunt Sue was a bit fanatical about keeping her oven clean, Mom- not so much.
So the recipe my mom used was to buy split halves of chicken from her local Pick-N-Pay, then use a sharp knife to cut them in half so she had 4 large pieces per chicken (and she bought LOTS of them for the clam bake) She put them on deep cookie sheets and slathered them with Italian salad dressing. (Everyone loved the flavor and thought it was marinated in something mysterious!) They would drip and ooze and spark a bit and mom would pull them out and put them in a huge roasting pan. She made them all on the morning of the clam bake so the huge pan was still warm when we got into the car and smelled great all the way to the party.
Every year I was expected to eat one clam and take a sip of clam juice (which looked like dirty water) then I could have chicken… and corn on the cob. I will still make chicken this way sometimes. Why not? I have a self-cleaning oven! J