Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stuffed Quahogs

Monday  night Tom and I came home to find a large bowl of quahogs in the refrigerator that Steven had dropped off. Steven's friend has a cottage right on the ocean. Steven and Robin went to a party there on the 4th of July and they dug some quahogs from the mud in the water right in front of the cottage at low tide.
 Steven had never made stuffed quahogs before and so that is how I got them. I will cook them, and he will get to eat some.
I had to decide whether to make a quahog chowder or to grind them and make stuffed quahogs also called stuffies or hogs. I haven't made stuffed quahogs in a long time. I really hated to turn on the oven on this hot afternoon, but I needed to cook the quahogs as I didn't want them to spoil.  I decided on the stuffed quahogs.

How to Open (Shuck) Quahog Clams

To the novice, opening quahog clams may seem like an insurmountable task. The process, called "shucking", is quite easy once a few important techniques are learned.
Before shucking clams, they should be rinsed thoroughly and scrubbed if necessary. When finished, they should be free from sand, mud or other debris.
The simplest way to shuck quahog clams is by placing them in a freezer for a short period, typically about 30-45 minutes. Chilling clams to just above freezing will relax and tenderize them.
The perfect situation occurs when the water inside the clam just begins to get slushy. At this point the shells may remain closed or barely gap open.
Once the clams are chilled, they should be laid on a sturdy work surface and opened using a special clam knife.
Begin shucking by aligning the clam knife with the shell's outer edge. Carefully but firmly, push the blade between the shells, working inward.
Once the blade penetrates, use a slicing motion to cut each adductor muscle loose from one shell. The clam can now be opened easily.
Catch the clam juice in a bowl and continue cutting the clam meat away from each shell. Shuck each clam into the bowl, When all clams have been shucked, they can be rinsed in the their own juice and transferred to a second bowl.
After the rinsing process, carefully pour most of the clam juice in with the clean clams. Discard the last few ounces of juice, which may contain traces of grit or shell fragments.
Refrigerate clams immediately after shucking. Quahogs

Pronunciation: \ ˈkō-ˌhȯg,  ˈkwō-ˌhäg
            Quahogs are bivalved mollusks/hard shelled clams. The smaller hard shell clams are called littlenecks, the cherrystones are a little larger,and the largest are called quahogs or chowder clams.

                                                                        A Recipe for 
                                                          BAKED STUFFED QUAHOGS

12 quahogs (save the juice for the bread stuffing)

3 tablespoons oil or ground salt pork (I prefer salt pork)

2 to 3 onions, chopped

3 to 4 stalks celery, chopped and you can also use the leaves at the top of the stalks

Part of a loaf of dry white bread

1 teaspoon black or crushed red pepper, or to taste

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

With a stiff brush scrub the shells of any mud or grit. Throw away any quahogs that are open as they are bad before you try to shuck open the shell. Shuck the quahogs with a shellfish knife, saving the juice and shells.
To make the quahogs  easier to shuck, you can put them into the freezer for about an hour, or zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds to relax the muscle that holds the shell tightly closed, just until the shells pop open. Strain the juice.
The food processor doesn't work very well so use an old fashioned hand crank food grinder or one of the grinders that fit onto a Kitchenaide mixer to chop your quahogs and salt pork. I chopped the quahogs with the medium sized blade on my hand grinder. Chop or tear bread into small pieces. Saute onions and celery in oil or salt pork. Heat your saved quahog juice.

Combine quahogs, onions, celery, pepper, and parsley and some saved juice. Add enough of the bread to create the desired consistency. It should be a little moist. If you add too much bread just add a little more heated juice. Spray your quahog shells with PAM. Mound the stuffing into the saved quahog shells. Sprinkle stuffing with a little paprika. Bake on baking sheet at 350-375 degrees for 20 -25 minutes. Makes 24 depending on the size of the quahog shells.

Optional: Before serving the hot stuffed quahogs top with a pat of butter. Sprinkle with hot sauce if you want to add more zip to your stuffies.
You can freeze any uneaten cooked stuffed quahogs.Wrap them individually in saran wrap, and then put in a freezer bag. To reheat sprinkle a little water on the top of the stuffing and microwave.

There are many variations for making stuffed quahogs, and some add chopped linquica or chorizo for a spicy stuffie, but I like them with just the quahog stuffing the best.
After the quahog has been removed from the shell the stuffing is put into the empty shell that have been sprayed with PAM.

A cookie sheet full of the  stuffed quahog shells, sprinkled with paprika and ready to bake in the oven.
Here is a video that I found on the internet
On Cape Cod many driveways have crushed quahog shells instead of tar. The Indians made jewelry from the quahog shells and also used the shells for money called wampum.


1 comment:

AngieHallHaviland said...

OH MY GOODNESS, Elaine!! They look so YUMMY!!