Stuffies, or stuffed clams, are a very personal matter here in Southern New England. There are as many stuffies recipes as there are chowder recipes, and everyone thinks they’ve got the best one. Most stuffies that I’ve had in restaurants, like most meatballs I’ve had, have too much bread and not enough of the good stuff.
I use medium-sized clams for this recipe and not the traditional quahog, a large clam often used in chowders that I find to be too chewy.
Dropping the clams in hot water in the beginning helps make opening the clams a lot easier.
This recipe makes a lot of stuffies, but they freeze well so you can have them when you want.
4 dozen medium neck clams
1.5 pounds chopped chourico, skin removed (I use Mello’s from Fall River, Mass)
3 onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
3 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels
3 cups toasted and coarsely ground Portuguese bread
3/4 cup chopped fresh oregano (or 1 Tablespoon dried)
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh sage (don’t use dried)
Salt and pepper
For the aioli:
Sambal chili paste
In a large pot of boiling water, drop the clams in, about a dozen at a time. Remove them after about 30 seconds, before they open. Place in bowl to cool. Do this with all the clams.
Open the clams with a clam knife over a bowl, making sure you save all the liquid from the clams. Put clam shells to the side. Throw away any broken shells, and wash the empty shell halves thoroughly.
Move clam meat to a cutting board or food processor and chop to medium-fine. Set aside. Let clam juices sit in bowl and then pour off to another bowl, leaving behind sand and grit.
In a large frying pan, add olive oil, onions, and chourico and cook on medium heat for a few minutes. Add oregano and sage and cook a few more minutes. Add corn and cook a few more minutes, a little more if the corn was frozen. Add chopped clams and stir, cooking for a few more minutes. Add breadcrumbs a little at a time until you have a nice balance of bread and other ingredients. Add the clam juice a little at a time as well, so that you can add all the breadcrumbs, but the mix isn’t runny. There’s lots of flavor in the clam juice, so use as much as you can! Season with salt and pepper.
Remove the pan from the heat and fill the empty clam shells with the stuffing.
At this point, you can freeze the clams. I put them on small sheet pans in the freezer until they harden, then I wrap them 6 at a time, and put them in freezer bags. Keep frozen!
To make the aioli, mix mayonnaise and Sambal in a bowl, to taste. Sambal is hot, so a little goes a long way. Keep covered and refrigerated.
When ready to bake, remove clams from freezer and place on a sheet pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. Top each clam with a small ¼” square piece of butter. Bake about 15 minutes, until the clams are sizzling and light brown. Top with a small dab of aioli.