Monday, July 30, 2012

Grill-Baked Stuffies


Yes, we're still cooking over here :) Doing a lot of other stuff too, but we're always cooking !

One of the "other stuff" things we did recently was to check out the Tall Ships in Boston, which was very cool (would have been even cooler to see them under sail, but even sitting in the harbor they are pretty damn impressive).

boats !
We capped off our trip with a stop at The Barking Crab , which I hadn't been to in years (and my partners in crime had never been to.)  A little touristy, but it was definitely good to get off our feet - it's a spot with a fun vibe and plenty of choices for everyone from crazy foodies like us to picky out-of-towners. And, they had stuffies !!

here's the Barking Crab version
What are stuffies, you ask ?  Stuffies are a New England (Rhode Island, actually) version of stuffed clams - quahogs, to be precise, great big clams that are usually used for chowder. Lightly steamed until they give up their sweet meat, which is removed and mixed with chorizo and Portuguese sweet bread crumbs. The whole lot is stuffed back into the shells and baked into absolute deliciousness.

Happy as a clam...in beer !


ready to stuff
waiting for foil
We started off with an Emeril recipe (original here ), but of course tweaked it quite a bit...I mean, really, this is us here :). Steaming in beer and using the sweet bread were the big changes, but there were some other things too...it's fun to play with recipes, and Emeril's usually adapt really well - though I refuse to make "Essence" (seriously, what a ridiculous name.) We also wanted to do these on our grill instead of heating up the house, which worked perfectly - just make sure you know how to keep a constant temperature with your grill.



The stuffies were absolutely delicious, but the recipe actually needs a tiny bit more tweaking (basically less chorizo and a drier stuffing), and we are definitely looking forward to perfecting this one in the very near future. In the meantime, I'm going to give what we think the final recipe will be...if it changes, we'll be sure to let you know !




Stuffies
Heavily adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients

8 large quahog or chowder clams
1 beer (12 oz), whatever you have around
1 – 2 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tsp minced garlic, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces chopped chorizo sausage
1/2 cup minced onions
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced peppers – green, red, or a little of both
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning, or more to taste
1 cup dried bread crumbs, made from Portuguese sweet bread if possible *
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/4 cup reserved steaming liquid
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions  

Pour beer into a large pot that will hold the clams in a single layer if possible. Add the thyme and 2 tsp of the garlic, and bring to a boil.  Add the clams to the pot, cover, and steam for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the shells open. Discard any shells that do not open. Remove the clams from the pot and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. When the clams are cool enough to handle, gently pry the shells apart enough to remove the clam, leaving the hinge attached. Loosen the muscle in the lower shell and remove the clam from the shell. Set aside the 6 nicest shells.  Finely chop the clam meat and set aside.

While the clams are steaming, in a mixing bowl stir the butter, remaining garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the parsley together. Refrigerate while you finish the clams and stuffing.

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until rendered, about 2 minutes. Add the onions, celery and peppers. Season with Old Bay and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic, the breadcrumbs, and reserved clam meat and remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid and the rest of the parsley. Add more Old Bay if needed and cool slightly.

Pack the stuffing mixture into one side of each shell. Using your hands, pat the stuffing firmly into each clam shell.  . Place about a tablespoon of the garlic butter on top of each stuffing mixture, then top each evenly with the cheese.  Close the shells as tightly as possible and wrap with aluminum foil.

Preheat the oven or grill to 400 degrees F.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Unwrap the clams and serve hot.



*Portuguese Sweet Bread is pretty easy to find in New England – if your market sells rolls individually it’s really easy to just buy one or two rolls. To make dry bread crumbs, toast slices of the bread or rolls in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until nice and dry, then grind them up in your food processor.  If you don’t have easy access to sweet bread (or really don’t feel like making your own bread crumbs), just use regular bread or plain bread crumbs.  Your stuffies will still rock !

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