My godson, Preston, is a great kid! We were spending a little family day by the water earlier this week when the tide rolled out and I spotted what looked like a little collection of quahogs popping up from the muck. All I could envision was some beautifully stuffed quohogs with butter dripping down and a squeeze of lemon on top… I should explain we were at a sort of river mouth that spills out into the ocean, so although there is a sandy beach, it quickly gets quite mucky, for lack of a better word. Anyway, I asked Preston to check out the situation and report back on whether what I was seeing were actually viable quohogs. The kid didn’t hesitate. He put on some water shoes and marched on out there up to his knees in black muck.
Well, he discovered they were indeed quahogs, yay… But… he forgot a bucket and now he was stuck in the muck. So, he tried to turn around and get out and he lost his shoes somewhere in the far reaches of the blackness. Needless to say that lead to me getting all mucky myself! He was able to pull out 4 giant quahog clams and we placed them in the bucket I brought out… I did look for more, but it was honestly pretty difficult to navigate through it all, so we retrieved the shoes and after a little more looking we ended up with the original 4… However, I have to say, we had a good time doing it and lots of laughs! And anyway I got what I wanted, the base to a great local treat!
Quintessentially New England, the Stuffed Quahog is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. Now if you have never heard the word quahog save for your experience watching Family Guy (based in the fictional “Quahog, RI”) let me explain a little about it. There are two basic types of clams, the steamer, which you will find in most New England clam boils and clam bakes and you get them any time you order a fried clam plate. And then there is the little neck clam. Quahog (pronounced koh- hog, and sometimes spelled quohog) is the giant version of the latter. You can see an example of a basic little neck in my post, Little Necks in Garlic Wine Sauce. There are any number of different types of clams between the two, but Quahogs, or Sea Clams as some refer to them, are always the largest of the breed and they never have a neck that comes out too far (hence the term little neck).
These 4 Quahogs that we collected, believe it or not, will be enough to stuff and feed 8 people! A traditional New England Stuffed Quahog has so much more than just the Quahog in it though, it is chock full of chouriço meat, onions, pepper, garlic and of course Portuguese Pop-secos (bread rolls). Let me show you how I make mine!
Here are 4 very large Quahogs, these are 4″+ in width… If your Quahogs are smaller, you’ll want to use a couple more… All in all you will want to end up with about 1/2 cup of meat. (To achieve this level of clean, you will want to soak in cold water and kosher salt for a good 10-20 minutes, after you’ve scrubbed them clean with something good and rough)
Add water into a pot just large enough to accommodate your quohogs.
Once your water is boiling, add in your quohogs.
Bring back up to a boil.
Cover your pot.
You will want to boil until they open.
If any of your quohogs do not open, you will want to toss them because they are not good. You need to reserve the liquid in the pot as you will need it.
Here is a cooked quahog.
You will need to separate the two halves of the quahog.
Remove the meat from the shell.
Don’t worry about that little connective tissue.
After they are cooked wash each one and be sure all the sand has come out. (Look how big that is!)
All washed up.
Chop up the meat… you should end up with a little more than a half cup.
Once you have your quahog prepared, you can start mixing up the stuffing mix…
If I had a large onion handy, I would have used it… but I didn’t so two medium onions it is.
You will need half a stick of butter.
In a 10″ non-stick skillet add in 2 Tbs. olive oil and half a stick of butter over medium heat.
Add the onions to your pan and saute.
You’ll want to saute until translucent.
Find the nicest bell pepper you can… I like red, but any color you like will do, or whatever is on sale.
Add you peppers to the onions and saute until lightly browned.
Add in a couple of cloves of garlic, minced.
Add garlic to pan and continue to saute.
Chop up a couple Tbs. of flat Italian parsley.
Slice and dice 1/4 lb. of chouriço.
You should end up with about 3/4 cup of chouriço.
Add in chouriço and parsley to the pan and continue to saute.
Add pepper to the mixture.
Place a large bowl in your sink for easy use.
Add bread into the bowl. Tare it up into small pieces. (Day old bread)
Pour the reserved cooking water into the bowl.
Be sure not to include any of the remaining sand at the bottom of the pot.
Press the bread into the liquid.
Once the bread has sat in the liquid for a bit, drain.
Squeeze out most of the liquid and add back into the bowl.
Your bread should now be damp, but not soggy.
To the bread, add in your chopped quahog meat.
Now add in your sautéed mixture. Mix.
Add in about 1/4 tsp. Portuguese Allspice.
Beat one egg.
Add in and mix.
And here is the finished stuffing mixture.
Use the largest scoop you have to dish stuffing mixture into the prepared shells.
Add the mixture to each shell in a sort of mound.
Some people like to put another shell on top, I happen to like how crispy it will get to all the exposed stuffing.
Sprinkle with a bit of paprika. Place in a pre-heated 375°F oven for 45 minutes for large quohogs such as these.
You will know they are ready when they have firmed up a bit but are not hardened.
Recipe for Stuffed Quahogs:
4 large quahogs
4 cups water
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chouriço, diced
2 Tbs. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp. Portuguese Allspice
1 egg, beaten
1 Heaping Tbs. ground red pepper
5 Portuguese Pop-seco bread rolls (day old)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 stick butter
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Scrub quohogs and then soak in salted water for about 10-20 minutes.
Fill a medium pot with water, bring to a boil. Add in quahogs. Add in a pinch of salt. Bring back up to a boil and cover. Cook until all have opened. If you find that one will not open, toss it as it was not a healthy clam. Reserve liquid.
In a 10″ skillet over medium heat add in oil and butter. To that add in onion and saute until translucent. Add in bell pepper, saute a few more minutes. Add in garlic, saute. Next, add in chouriço and parsley, saute. Allow to cool as you prepare the bread mixture.
In a large bowl tare bread into small pieces. Cover the bread with the cooking water used for the quohogs. Push bread down into the liquid completely submerging it. Allow to sit for a few minutes and then switch the soaked bread to a colandar. Drain out liquid. Then take handfuls of bread and squeeze out liquid and add back into the bowl.
To the bowl with the bread, add in the quahog meat. Then add in the sautéed mixture to the bowl. Finally add in the Portuguese Allspice and mix. At this point, taste for salt. Once the seasoning is just right, add in the egg. Mix until completely combined.