When you’re staying at home instead of going on vacation and even going to restaurants isn’t nearly as easy as it once was, cooking can be transportive, offering a way to escape the doldrums. If the meal being prepared is a coastal specialty, even better. Pretend you’re on the beach with Rhode Island native and chef Bruce Moffett’s recipe for stuffies.
What Are Stuffies?
First off, you’re probably wondering what a stuffie even is, which would be a reasonable thought considering they’re known merely as stuffed clams everywhere outside of Rhode Island. Chef Bruce, chef-owner of the Moffett Restaurant Group in Charlotte, North Carolina, brought his hometown favorite to the South, featuring the stuffie on the menu at his restaurant NC Red.
Stuffies consist of a breadcrumb and minced clam mixture baked on the half shell of a quahog hard-shell clam. In Rhode Island, they’re “considered a poor man’s dish that is highly revered,” says Moffett. Stuffies have been around in Rhode Island for a very long time, widely thought to be the invention of Portuguese and Italian immigrants who popularized the dish.
Related Reading: The Difference Between Types of Clams
Other than growing up on stuffies, Chef Bruce loves them because they are “nostalgic and comforting. It’s the seafood cousin of turkey stuffing.” That sounds like a dish we could all use right now. So, go ahead and make like you’re seaside with a culinary trip to the East Coast, courtesy of Chef Bruce’s Rhode Island Stuffies recipe below.
But not so fast: Be sure to follow these instructions carefully so you can have the best at-home stuffie experience possible. As a bonus, this humble dish has simple ingredients, many of which you probably already have on hand in your kitchen. The most exotic component is the clams themselves.
We think you’ll agree that these are “wicked good.” After making your first batch of stuffies, you’ll be one step closer to becoming an honorary Rhody.
Prep for Excellence
When getting your mise en place ready, make sure you use a sharp chef’s knife and get a fine dice on all your vegetables: white onion, red bell pepper, and celery. The garlic should be minced.
Before it’s time to bake the stuffies, cook everything in a large, heavy stockpot.
Chef Bruce says “a good clean clamshell is a must for stuffies,” so wash them accordingly.
Related Reading: How to Get Your Clams Squeaky Clean
You’ll know the stuffies are baked to perfection when you get the “browning effect on the top and crunchy bits around the edges.”
As for where to source the quahog clams, Moffett says to go to your local fish market or have them shipped directly.
Live Wild Topneck Hard Shell Clams, $9/dozen from Fulton Fish Market
These are smaller than quahogs but still perfect for stuffing.
Related Reading on CNET: The Best Places to Buy Seafood Online
If it’s your first time cooking clams, see these tips on steaming clams, and be sure to throw away any that don’t open during steaming. Chef Bruce reminds you to “finely chop or mince the steamed clam” meat for the stuffing.
Rhode Island Stuffed Clam Recipe
Try these for a taste of the summer shore wherever you are.
Chef Bruce Moffett’s Stuffies Recipe
- 1/3 cup clams, cooked and finely chopped
- 1/3 cup chorizo, fine dice
- 3 tablespoons white onion, fine dice
- 3 tablespoons red bell pepper, fine dice
- 3 tablespoons celery, fine dice
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 9 ounces clam juice
- 6.5 ounces chicken stock
- ¾ cup corn flakes
- ¾ cup panko
- 1/3 cup parmesan
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- In a large stockpot, melt the butter on a medium flame, add chorizo and cook to render fat.
- Add all of the veggies and sweat down until tender.
- Add clam juice and chicken stock, bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add all seasonings (black pepper, sweet paprika, salt, oregano, and chili flakes).
- Finish with panko, corn flakes, and parmesan cheese.
- Add clams.
- Cook together for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool mixture. When ready, add scoop of mixture onto a quahog hard shell and bake at 375 in a preheated oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Header image courtesy of wsmahar / E+ / Getty Images