Tracy Lee Karner

Simply the best Rhode Island Stuffies

Tracy Lee Karner
Simply the best Stuffies. Ever.

Stuffies are Vintage Rhode Island food.

Quahog Clam Stuffing is to Rhode Island what Meat Loaf is to Iowa. Stuffies came into being in order to stretch 2 servings of clams into enough food for 6 people (and using up yesterday’s stale bread is also clever).
If you live on the coast and your supermarket sells Quahogs, you can make stuffies with whole, live clams. 

Stuffies for 6: This recipe uses canned clams.

  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can of chopped clams in clam juice (drain clams and reserve juice)
  • 6 ounces tiny raw peeled and deveined shrimp (or use larger shrimp and chop them up)
  • 3 ounces chopped or crumbled raw sausage (whatever kind you like–Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sausage; Italian sausage; or the amazingly fabulous chorizo my chef husband makes from scratch, but of course you’d have to be in my kitchen if you want to go with the chorizo option)
  • 1/3 cup each of chopped onion, celery and green pepper (that makes 1 cup total of chopped veggies)
  • 1 large clove chopped garlic
  • 1-1/2 cups of homemade bread crumbs (or use Panko, which is not quite as good, but good enough)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese (or some of each)
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • scant quarter cup of dry white wine
  •  a good sprinkle of all purpose seasoning such as Lawry’s or the amazingly fabulous secret magic blend my chef husband always keeps us supplied with (why don’t you just come to my place and let me make stuffies for you?)
  • as much black pepper as you and your co-eaters can tolerate
  • 2 tablespoons butter (that’s 6 teaspoons)
  1. In a medium frying pan, brown  sausage then stir in onion, green pepper and celery until vegetables are wilted. Add shrimp and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, sprinkle generously with all-purpose seasoning and a healthy dash of black pepper and fry for another 30 seconds. Frying the spices, especially the pepper, makes the flavor pop! Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the vegetable-meat-shrimp mixture, chopped clamsgrated cheese, bread crumbs, and parsley. Moisten the mixture with enough of the reserved clam liquid and a splash of dry white wine to make it feel like dressing–not soupy, just moist enough to hold together if you smoosh it (but don’t smoosh it yet).
  3. Divide the dressing into six portions and mound each portion into the bottom of a large clam shell, or individual baking dish. Smoosh each mound a little bit to pack the stuffie into nice roundish form.
  4. Top each with a teaspoon-sized pat of butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes until heated through. Remove foil and broil for a couple minutes (watch carefully) to give your stuffies a bit of crunchy crust.

Serve stuffies as a first course at a Vintage Rhode Island Supper Party, with a dry white wine or cava, or a refreshing hoppy beer.

Vintage Rhode Island Supper Party menu: 1st course–Stuffies; Main course–Spaghetti and meatballs; Dessert–Frozen Lemonade. 
When and where have you eaten stuffies? What’s your favorite vintage food? 

32 thoughts on “Simply the best Rhode Island Stuffies”

  1. Now I’m hungry, Tracy!
    The only clams I’ve ever had were the fried kind from Long John Silver’s, and the slightly better fried kind from Red Lobster, and neither was ‘fresh.’ At the Broadmoor Hotel I did have some excellent clam patties in panko (sp?) with an orange liquor drizzled on the top, but your recipe sounds even better.
    Another hit, Tracy!

  2. This is the first time I have heard of stuffies or hoppy beer. They sound delicious especially, I imagine, served as you suggest, as a first course, with chilled white wine or something sparkling. 😉

    1. “Stuffies” is peculiar to Rhode Island; which means practically no one in the whole wide world has ever heard of them. Rhode Island is the tiniest state in the U.S. (and is hardly any larger than any small European city). No wonder you’ve never heard of us…) But, yes, the stuffs are, in fact, delicious…

  3. I’ve never heard of stuffies before but they sound delicious! Growing up in the Midwest, meatloaf was definitely a staple in our household. We would even use breadcrumbs like your recipe to stretch out the ingredients!

    1. Give them a try at your next dinner party–people will think you’re sophisticated…
      Actually, I had never heard of Stuffies, either, until recently, when I decided to spend some time here in Rhode Island–
      “Stuffies” are an entirely small regional dish, but a dish that deserves to be spread in fame…

    1. It might happen… you visiting here in the north east…
      But it’s likelier that I’ll meet up with you in TX, my parents live in Fort Worth…
      And if that doesn’t happen, perhaps we’ll meet in the middle (Virginia? North Carolina?–stay in touch when you’re traveling, perhaps it will happen… but if I ever plan a trip to TX, I’ll sure let you know…)

  4. I’ve never tried a clam, Tracy. I’m not very experimental when it comes to seafood, but I’ll never pass up a lobster tail or crab cake. 🙂 I may need to expand my horizons.
    Please tell your husband, it’s nice to meet him! 🙂

    1. There’s a whole story behind that name…
      I had never heard it, until we were out walking the bay last spring, and a woman, digging clams, told us she was out there (in the cold) because her dad was in the mood for “STUFFIES.” I had to ask her what those were… meanwhile, I’ve learned, they’re delicious….

  5. Lorena Heacock Heintz

    They look delicious. I have to try them, finding clams in the shell here is probably out though. I am seeing a side of those yummy cheddar biscuits.

  6. This is a new one on me Tracy, never heard of Stuffies! The only time I’ve had clam is in chowder but I do love all shell fish so I think I would really enjoy these! But I’ll wait until I visit Rhode Island before I do so… 😉

    1. I don’t think Stuffies are well known outside of Rhode Island (and Rhode Island is TINY, so that means hardly anyone in the whole wide world knows them, which I’m trying to remedy. They’re really, really tasty!)

      1. Tracy … Usually, I lean toward French, Mediterranean and Continental cuisine. But I do love a variety of ethnic and regional foods, such as hush puppies. I had the best hush puppies in the world – granted I’ve had limited exposure to these – when we were moving from New York to Florida. These delights were in a South Carolina restaurant. Yummy!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *