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From Scratch: 10 Meals, 175 Recipes, and Dozens of Techniques You Will Use Over and Over

From Scratch

By Michael Ruhlman

Published 2019

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This is an economical and tasty side dish or starter course that uses big clams called quahogs. You can also use large cherrystone clams if quahogs are not available. This is an unbeatable combination of sausage, clam, and aromatics bound with bread. If you like stuffing, this is one of the most sublime versions I know—spicy, chewy, crispy, and satisfying.


  • 12 quahogs
  • cups/360 milliliters water
  • 6 tablespoons/90 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small dice (about ½ cup)
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into small dice (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 8 ounces/225 grams Portuguese or Spanish chorizo (or other spicy cured sausage), cut into small dice
  • cups/100 grams seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ cup/30 grams pulverized Ritz crackers (10 or so)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
  • Hot sauce, for serving (I’m old-fashioned and prefer tangy Tabasco, but any hot sauce will do.)


Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C.

Put the quahogs and water in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook till the clams open, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on their size. Transfer them to a bowl as they open. Strain the cooking liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove the meat and roughly chop it (it should be well chopped but with plenty of chewy chunks). Break apart the clamshell halves and set aside.

In a sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, celery, and red pepper flakes (if using). Season it with a four-finger hit of salt. When the vegetables have softened, add the chorizo and chopped clams and stir to heat through, another minute or so.

Stir in two-thirds of the bread crumbs and the Ritz crackers. Stir in ½ cup/120 milliliters of the clam cooking liquid. Continue to add liquid until the mixture is moist and can be packed into the clamshells. If you add too much liquid, add some of the remaining bread crumbs.

Stuff 16 of the clamshell halves with the mixture, sprinkle with the Parmigiano, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until piping hot and browned, about 20 minutes. If they aren’t sufficiently browned on top, broil them until they have an appealing crust.

Serve with lemon wedges and hot sauce.