Rhode Island–Style Stuffed Quahog Clams ("Stuffies")

Quahog Shell with Natural Quahog Pearls

Quahog Shell with Natural Quahog Pearls

There’s a lot to love about New England–style stuffed clams. They have the comfort and heartiness of a bread-based stuffing, permeated with a briny clam essence, savory aromatics, and the final pep of lemon, all mixed together, baked, and charmingly presented in a large clam shell. You’ll find versions of stuffed clams in seafood shacks, restaurants, and home kitchens along the New England coastline, close to the towns where the clams are dug up.

Rhode-Island “Stuffies”
Since my love-at-first-bite experience, I’ve sought out and have enjoyed many stuffed clams in seafood shacks from northern Maine all the way down through southern coastal towns in Rhode Island (just a stone's throw from my beloved Westport). While most consist of the common elements described above, the flavor profile, ratio of ingredients, and texture of the stuffing can vary with each version.

The version I seek out the most, and that inspired this recipe, is the Rhode Island–style of stuffed clams, lovingly known in Li’l Rhody as “stuffies.” What makes this version unique to Rhode Island is the Portuguese influence with the addition of chouriço, which is smoked and cured and loaded with garlic and paprika. Along with the added sausage, garlic, paprika, and bell pepper are commonly found in chouriço stuffies. The briny clams combined with the smoky and rich sausage is, in my opinion, a perfect pairing.

It’s little surprise that Rhode Island–style stuffies would have a strong Portuguese influence. Rhode Island has the densest Portuguese population in the country. When waves of Portuguese immigrants came to Rhode Island in the late 19th century, they sought jobs working in factories, fishing, and later in clamming.

While the large hard shell clams known as quahogs (pronounced coe-hog) can be found up and down the east coast, they are especially abundant in Rhode Island, with Narragansett Bay the epicenter of the clamming industry in Rhode Island, and a major part of the state's local economy. With Portuguese immigrants at the helm of the clam-digging boats, it's logical that many recipes using the clams would have a strong Portuguese influence.

SOURCE & RECIPE: https://www.seriouseats.com/rhode-island-style-stuffed-quahog-clams-7852619

Kari's note: I've had stuffed quahogs, maybe not the same recipe but similar and they were super yummy. Neat shells too.

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