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BLOCK ISLAND STUFFIES

Ingredients

20 cherrystone clams

1 bottle beer

1-pound bacon

1 small loaf Italian or Ciabatta bread, day old (about 4 cups ¼-½” cubed breadcrumbs)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 ¼ sticks butter

2 medium onions, chopped

5 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 jalapenos, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

½-pound chorizo links, pre-cooked and chopped into ¼-½” dice

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon black pepper

2-pounds fresh chopped clams

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups Italian flavored breadcrumbs

30 Ritz crackers, crushed

2 cups grated parmesan cheese

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

2 lemons, juiced (about ½ cup)

Instructions

Place the clams in a large shallow pot, in one layer, and pour the beer over them.  Cover the pot, leaving a slight opening to vent and prevent boiling over.  Steam the clams over medium high heat until they are just opened.

Remove the clams to a plate to cool and strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve.  Set aside.

Remove clam meats from the shells and line empty shells up on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Chop the clams in a food processor, pulsing several times until small pieces form.  Set aside.

Arrange the bacon slices on a foil-lined, rimmed, baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes until crisp.  Do not discard the bacon fat.  Chop the bacon and set aside.  Cut the bread into ¼-½” cubes and spread out on the baking sheet with bacon grease.  Toss to coat with the grease and toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until lightly toasted.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium high heat.  Cook the onions, garlic, and jalapenos and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft and fragrant.  Add red and green peppers, red pepper flakes and black pepper to the skillet.  Cook for another 7-10 minutes until peppers are tender.  Add chorizo and cook for another 5 minutes until veggies begin to lightly brown and caramelize.  Remove from heat and add to the bowl with bread pieces.

Add clams from the food processor, the 2-pounds chopped clams, thyme, parsley, Italian breadcrumbs, crushed Ritz, Parmesan, corn and lemon juice to the bowl and mix well with your hands. Add as much of the reserved cooking liquid as needed to create a moist, but not wet, stuffing that holds together nicely.

Fill each shell with a mound of stuffing and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until hot and lightly browned and crusty on top.  Drizzle and garnish with more lemon wedges and fresh parsley.

This recipe makes a LOT of stuffies (30-40), but is easily halved, or they also freeze beautifully.  Just freeze on baking sheets and then store in ziplock bags and pull out one or two whenever you have a craving!!

This recipe won first place in the 2015 Block Island Stuffies Contest and first place in the Newport Irish American Club Stuffie Smack-down in 2018 and 2019!

I also use this recipe to make ‘bite-size’ stuffies with littlenecks.  This makes a great appetizer and you can make them ahead and freeze them to use as needed!

There is no more traditional New England dish than a ‘Stuffie’!  This delicious treat is created by taking the clam meats out of the shell, chopping them up, and then combining with peppers, onions, garlic, lemon, and breading to create a ‘stuffing’ is then placed back in the shell and baked.

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