Every summer, growing up, my cousins and I would drive up to Wrightsville, NC for our annual beach trip: one solid week of ultimate frisbee, washed-up sports bars, sunblock and sunburns, the best "waves" on the East Coast (i.e., virtually none), and food binges galore (stovetop s'mores, grilled cheeses, vats of Shin ramen, those multi-coloured plastic ice pops, etc.). To break from this weekday junk, we would reserve one night for something more refined: homemade cheeseburgers perhaps, or a steak dinner—but more often than not, a seafood roast. This is my magnum opus; this is Wrightsville in a pan.
2–3 potatoes, diced*
1 lemon, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 head garlic, separated into cloves
Salt and pepper, to taste
A mélange of your favorite sea critters (especially mussels, baby squid, and shrimp^)
Old Bay Seasoning
Fresh parsley, chopped
*It's hard to measure a rough-and-tumble recipe like this, so use your judgment depending on the size of your party (or the ravenousness of the stomachs you're feeding).
^Leave the tails on because they get shrimpier and crunchier in the oven. (Yes, eat them whole! Life is short!)
In a large roasting pan, lightly dress the potatoes, lemon, onion, and garlic in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bung this in a hot, hot 425-degree oven for an hour at least. After an hour, remove the pan and place it on the stove.
Now for the seafood assemblage: first clatter in the mussels (cleaned, soaked, and drained), then toss in the baby squid (cut into rings), and finally arrange the shrimp decorously over everything. Drizzle this with olive oil; spritz with a little vermouth (which will reduce into the most umamied gravy at the bottom of the pan); and season the party with Old Bay. This goes back in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the mussels have opened up like little birdies' mouths. When ready to serve, garnish with a blanket of chopped parsley.