An advertisement for Matlaw’s stuffed clams in Down East magazine caught my eye:
America’s Favorite Stuffed Clam! GREAT ON THE GRILL.
A quick search revealed that Matlaw’s, a Glouster, Massachusetts seafood company has been creating value-added seafood products since the late 1950’s. Although I’ve never had the opportunity to try their products, I do enjoy stuffed clams. We enjoy an abundance of Maine clams, so I gave creating our own “brand” of stuffed clams a try.
Recipes for deviled clams, stuffed clams or “stuffies” create a perfectly seasoned casserole stuffed with clams and baked to a golden brown. Just like different cooks, there are many variations on the theme
Breadcrumbs, Ritz, or Saltine crackers are the fillers of choice for stuffies. Savory additions often include chopped peppers, both red and green, chopped celery, minced onions or scallions, sometimes even sausage. Binders include melted butter, often an egg.
Seasonings are at the creative cook’s taste. Here on Deer Isle, our default is usually Old Bay. Other additions could include crushed red pepper flakes, grainy mustard, fresh herbs, garlic or mushrooms. Whenever first developing a seasoning for a stuffing or meatloaf, I opt for the Julia Child method: Cook a small amount, taste it, and then season again.
For the clams, I used ground surf or hen clams, the ones that we dig on low-drain tides here in Crockett Cove. Traditional stuffies use quahogs, the Native American word for hard-shelled clams. Extra clams shucked from a batch of steamers would work, as would canned clams.
The first two stuffed clams I baked in the oven and served up for dinner. They were tasty, but one clam wouldn’t be enough for a hearty appetite. I froze the other four.
For an appetizer, I wrapped the frozen stuffed clamshell in a foil pouch and cooked the package on the grill. For both the best taste and food safety of the casserole, the internal temperature needs to reach at least 165 degrees. The heat from all grills varies. On mine, after about 30 minutes the clam had reached 135 degrees. I opened the foil pouch a bit, and cooked the casserole until the top was nice and golden, and the temperature was over 165 degrees.
Just like Matlaw’s said, these stuffies were GREAT ON THE GRILL.
According to their website, Matlaw’s products are available in the frozen seafood section of major grocery stores, including Hannaford.
Having a quick, easy, and elegant snack in your freezer makes summer entertaining a breeze. Create your own “brand” of stuffies! Drop me a line and share the recipe, or better yet, even the clam.
GRILLED STUFFED CLAMS
- 2 cups shucked clams and liquor
- 1½ tablespoons chopped scallion
- 1½ tablespoons Chopped red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup Ritz cracker crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Sea salt and fresh pepper as needed
PREPARE STUFFED CLAMS:
- Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat oven to 400 degrees or the grill to medium. Butter 6 individual casseroles or large clamshells.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Chop the vegetables.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the butter. Cook until just tender. Add to a medium bowl.
- Break up the cracker crumbs.
- Drain the clams, reserving the juice. Chop the clams fine and add the clams and juice to the bowl. Stir in the egg. Add the Old Bay seasoning and season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper. Add the sautéed veggies and crackers.
- Portion the mixture into individual casseroles or large clamshells.
COOK - CONVENTIONAL OVEN:
- Place stuffed clams on a baking sheet into a preheated 450°F oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
COOK - ON THE GRILL:
- Wrap clams in a foil pouch; leave the top open for a crispy top or closed for softer, moister clams. Cook on medium heat for 20 = 25 minutes with lid closed.