Growing up in California, the idea of "digging for clams" wasn't a really part of my experience. But out in Rhode Island, and the beaches south of Cape Cod, digging in the sand for your dinner is apparently a regular summertime activity.
My friend Alden (age 8) and her sister Piper (my goddaughter, age 5) took me clam digging this weekend.
It wasn't exactly what I expected.
Although we went out in low tide, we still had to get chest deep in the water to find a sandy spot to scrape the bottom of with our toes.
We found about 6 empty shells or rocks for every intact clam.
We were out for more than an hour, shoulders sunburned and toes scraped, nearly stung by red jellyfish, and managed to get a grand total of 9 clams (3 clams each).
I know there are more efficient ways to do this (as I'm sure some of you will tell me), but at the end of the day, it didn't matter. Hunting for clams was just a great excuse to play in the warm sea water on a beautiful sunny day.
Here's the recipe for stuffed clams (also called "stuffies") that Alden and Piper's mom Heidi made with our hard-earned catch.
Stuffed Clam Variations
- Cook a few strips of bacon until fat renders but not brown or crispy, chop and mix in with the stuffing.
- Use crumbled up Ritz crackers for the breadcrumbs.
- Put a little piece of cheddar cheese underneath the clam mixture in each clam, that way you get a little melted cheese with each bite!
Do you have a favorite recipe for stuffed clams? Please let us know about it in the comments. I've heard that they are especially good with a little Portuguese sausage mixed in the stuffing.
Baked Stuffed Clams
Although this recipe calls for fresh clams, you can also make this with canned minced clams (use one 6.5 ounce can, drained of all but 1 tablespoon of clam juice). Bake as directed on clam shells, or bake in a casserole dish and use as a dip with crackers.
If you've purchasing clams, keep them in the refrigerator covered with a damp, wet towel. If you have dug up your clams, keep them covered with cool sea water in a bucket. Throw away any cracked or broken clams.
10 to 12 large chowder or quahog clams, rinsed, sand and grit removed
3 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon clam juice (or cooking liquid from steaming the clams)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Cook the clams:
Fill a large pot with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil. Add the clams to the boiling water. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the clams steam for approximately 6 to 10 minutes, until the shells open.
Remove clams from the pot and let cool enough to handle. Discard any clams that have not opened (if they haven't opened it means they were dead to begin with and should not be eaten).
Remove the clam meat:
Separate the meat from the shells (not the clam foot which is attached to the shell) and mince finely.
Pick the best clam shells for serving:
Break apart the clam shells from their hinges. Rinse. Pick 10 to 12 of the cleanest, nicest looking clam shells and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place a rack in the center of the oven.
Make the stuffing:
In a sauté pan, melt the butter on medium heat and add the minced onion. Once the onions have softened (2 to 3 minutes), add the garlic.
Cook the garlic for 1 minute, then add the parsley, bread crumbs, minced clams, lemon juice, and clam juice.
Stir until the stuffing mixture is completely moistened. (If too dry, add a bit more butter or clam juice; if too wet, add a bit more breadcrumbs.
Stuff the clam shells, sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake:
Lay clam shells on a baking dish. Scoop a little stuffing mixture onto each clam shell. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Bake at 350°F for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, until Parmesan is lightly browned on top.
Save your biggest, prettiest clam shells to use for future stuffed clam dishes. To clean, just rinse them off and run them through the dishwasher with your dishes.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||53%|
|Total Carbohydrate 17g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||55%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|