New England-style Stuffed Clams also called Stuffed Quahogs (hard-shelled clams) are a regional favorite in Rhode Island around Narragansett Bay and along the coastline in Southern Massachusetts and the Cape where I grew up.
Also known as “stuffies,” stuffed clams or stuffed quahogs are flavored with fresh bread crumbs, onion, celery, bell pepper and Portuguese spices. Everyone has their own version of this recipe and my Mom always used freshly made breadcrumbs instead of dried.
It’s also popular to bake the mixture back inside the shells. This is how my mother always made them. However, if you start with canned clams, you can always bake them in scoops on aluminum foil that’s been prepared with non-stick cooking spray. We often make a double batch and freeze some to keep on hand for unexpected cravings.
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Check out these classic New Englad recipes:
- New England Clam Boil
- Traditional New England Clam Chowder
- Traditional Boston Baked Beans
- Boston Brown Bread
- Panko Crusted Baked Cod Fish
- New England Clam Cakes
New England Stuffed Clams (Quahogs)
- 12 large clams or quahogs
- salt and ground black pepper , to taste
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 large onion , minced
- 1 red bell pepper , minced
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup Portuguese chouriço , diced [See Note]
- 3 Tbsp parsley , freshly chopped
- 1/4 tsp Portuguese allspice [See note]
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes [see note]
- 6 slices sandwich bread (makes about 2 cups)
- 1 egg , beaten
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Scrub clam shells to remove any debris.
- Fill a deep, wide skillet with about 1/2 inch of water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the quahogs in one layer and cover. Steam the clams for about 4-5 minutes. As soon as the shells open, remove the clams from the skillet, and discard any that don't open. Retain the cooking liquid, and rinse out the skillet before proceeding to step 6.
- Next, remove the clam meat, but not the adductor muscle portion that attaches the two halves of the shell (this is tough). Chop the meat into small pieces. Reserve 12 clam shells for step 9.
- Into the same skillet, add the olive oil, butter, bell pepper, chourico (or dry chorizo) and onions, and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes until the onions and bell peppers soften. Then, add the garlic and saute for another minute or two before removing the skillet from the heat.
- In a large bowl cover the bread with 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the quahogs. With your hands, push the bread down into the liquid completely submerging it. Allow to sit for a few minutes to soak up the liquid. Drain and excess and, with your finger tips, break the bread apart to form a fine meal. The mixture should be moist enough to stick together, but not too wet. If needed, add more clam liquid or more breadcrumbs.
- Add in the chopped quahog meat and the sautéed meat and vegetable mixture to the bowl.
- Finally, add in the Portuguese allspice and red pepper flakes and mix to combine. Taste mixture and adjust the seasonings. Once the bread seasoning is to your liking, add in the beaten egg. Mix until completely combined.
- Stuff the clam shells with a mounded scoop scoop of clam stuffing. Sprinkle with some paprika then bake on a rimmed baking sheet until heated through - about 20-25 minutes.
- Top with a pad of butter, a slice of lemon, and hot sauce on the side (optional).
- Substitute Portuguese chouriço with andouille sausage or dried Spanish chorizo or omit altogether for a meatless variety.
- Replace Portuguese allspice with regular allspice.
- Increase or decrease red pepper flakes according to the spiciness you prefer.