Recipe: Stuffed Quahogs

Stuffed quahogs, more commonly and endearingly referred to as “stuffies,” are an iconic, delicious Rhode Island staple, up with the rest of the greats: coffee milk, Del’s Lemonade, and clear chowder. The word quahog is said to come from the Narragansett Tribe who referred to these clams as “popquauhock”. At its most basic, the dish is a quahog halfshell stuffed with a mix of breading and clam. It’s rumored that stuffies were created by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in Rhode Island, but because the exact date of the stuffies’ inception is unknown, the dish seems to be all the more timeless and legendary.


I remember as a child, my family and I waded through waist-high salt water, either raking sand or digging our toes into muck, to excavate prized quahogs. We’d return home and grill our loot with garlic and olive oil. But what excited me most were the dishes we’d create with the leftovers, chowder and clam cakes, and best of all: stuffies.

I now present the stuffie recipe of my youth.

The Classic Stuffie
(makes a dozen)

6 quahog clams 
Garlic powder 
1 loaf of Italian bread 
1 finely chopped yellow onion 
1 finely chopped red bell pepper 
1 finely chopped green bell pepper 
1 minced garlic clove 
3 minced sprigs of fresh parsley 
Lemon wedges, for serving 
Tabasco, for serving 
Italian bread crumbs if stuffing is too loose 
Clam juice if stuffing is too dry 
(Optional) 3 finely chopped jalapenos if you want spicy

1. Wash quahogs and bake at 375°F until they split open. 
2. Cut Italian loaf into small cubes to make croutons. 
3. Season bread cubes with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and melted butter. 
4. Bake seasoned bread cubes at 375°F until crisp and golden brown. 
5. Once quahogs are cooked, let cool and then scoop out the meat and save the dozen half shells. 
6. Finely dice the quahog meat. 
7. Crush croutons into breadcrumbs. 
8. Mix the breadcrumbs with the finely chopped yellow onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, garlic clove and sprigs of fresh parsley (all can be put in a food processor for convenience). 
9. Add and mix the finely diced quahog meat (do not put quahog meat in food processor). 
10. The stuffing should be a moist, malleable consistency. If it is too loose, add Italian breadcrumbs. If it is too dry, add clam juice. 
11. Scoop the stuffing into the 12 quahog half shells. 
12. Bake at 375°F for 10-15 minutes. 
13. Add lemon juice, Tabasco, and enjoy! 
The Portuguese / Italian / Meat Lover's Version
To honor the history of the great stuffie, different meats can be added to the prior recipe. For the Portuguese style, add Portuguese chorizo. For the Italian style, add spicy Italian pork sausage. And for the Meat Lover’s, add chorizo, sausage, and bacon. Casings from the chorizo and sausage must be removed, meat crumbed, and can either be finely minced or put in the food processor with the veggies. The stuffing with these meats is often more moist, and the end result even more delicious!
Gluten Free / Vegan Versions
To create a gluten-free version of the prior recipe, simply substitute the Italian bread loaf with your favorite-gluten free bread. For a vegan version, substitute the quahog meat with shiitake mushrooms coated with soy sauce (which, when diced, have a satisfyingly similar texture and look to clam meat), and use your butter substitute of choice.

Stuffed quahogs are one of the best Rhode Island staples, and though this recipe can be followed year round, the particular summerness of the stuffie is brought out by cooking them on the grill. With that in mind, let this recipe enhance your next summer cookout or clambake. I hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy it as much as I do!

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