Stuffed clams and addicts I have known

Stuffed clams…

Stuffed clams ready for the oven…

If you’re not in the mood for steamers the usual way (which would be: steamed!), or shucked clams ready to be breaded and deep fried for your own homemade fried clams, this an intensely satisfying way to prepare and enjoy them. I’ve tried this a couple of times on guests, and so far no complaints.

Great clammy aroma and taste!

I think what’s special about this recipe is that the clams aren’t steamed ahead of time; they cook in the oven. And there are a lot of them, so what you’ll be eating is 3/4 clam meats and 1/4 other stuff. They’ll be fragrant, and rich!

This recipe is for 10-12 stuffed clams, which will nicely serve four or five people as an app or side course.

You’ll need:
  • 10-12 quahog (littleneck) shells, between 3″ to 4″ lengthwise
  • about 1 1/2 pints shucked steamer clams, rinsed and drained
  • about 2 tbsps. each of finely chopped bell pepper and green onion (scallions)
  • chopped or canned hot jalapeno peppers – about 2 tsps.
  • 1/4 finely chopped yellow onion, sauteed till golden in 1 tbsp. butter and a splash of white wine
  • 1/2 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs – about 1 cup
  • 4-6 strips bacon, well-cooked then crumbled
  • sprinklings of grated sharp cheddar (optional, but most people like a hint of cheese)
  • seasonings to taste: pepper, garlic powder, red pepper

Mix the prepared veggies and the egg in a bowl until well blended. Now chop the rinsed shucked clams into smallish “pieces” (“pieces” makes no sense at all for the mess you’re going to make, but I don’t know an English word for a single unit of moosh) and rinse and drain well. Add bread crumbs, a little at a time, and stir in until the glop starts to firm up a bit, but isn’t too bready – I used about 1 cup.

Spoon out the viscous clammy goo-mix into the quahog shells – don’t be afraid to pile it up high! then add the crumbled bacon on top, and finally (if you want) shreds of sharp cheddar. Bake uncovered at 350 for about 40 minutes, but depending on how large your shells are it may take a little less, or more time.

Soft and clammy-redolent on the inside, a hint of crunch on the outside. Aces! And they freeze well, in case you make too many.

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Addicts I have known…

I assume we all know people with one addiction or another – nicotine, alcohol, drugs… but there are many other ways to get hooked that are substance-free. Here are some of my lifetime favorites, scattered through the years and about the country.

Addict: Paul Newman. Addiction: speed.

When I met Paul Newman in the spring of 1968 in Westport, Conn., and survived a high “pucker-factor” thrill ride with him in his Porsche-powered VW bug, he was at the height of his film career, but still only 43 years old and with some growth and maturity yet to come. He had motorcycles and fast cars in his driveway, and was beginning to launch a second career as race car driver.

My aunt and uncle lived directly across the street from him on a country road, and had become good friends with the Newmans (despite sharp political differences). Well, things were not always perfectly calm between Paul and Joanne (Woodward) at that time, and if Paul was ticked off enough he’d grab his motorcycle and ragingly tear-ass all over narrow twisty roads in Westport, sometimes with the law on his tail. So claimed my aunt and uncle. I believe it, though, having been with him at 70mph in a 30 zone.

Addict: Delta Airlines pilot. Addiction: thrill-seeking.

Years ago my (then) wife and I visited a deserted beach somewhere north of Palm Beach, Florida, taking our cameras with us. A stormy day, with strong easterly winds. And here’s this guy swimming out to what looked like an iron barge, cut loose from whatever was towing it. The guy managed to get himself aboard it as it was tossed around in the waves. Green water over the barge! We feared a wave would knock him over. Nutso!

1972 (I think), north of Palm Beach, Fla.

After awhile he leapt off the barge into the water, barely managing to stay clear of it as it rollicked in the storm. When we talked later, he said he was a Delta pilot on his day off, and loved a good rough ride at sea. Nice guy, but of dubious sanity.

Addict: Eugene L., author. Addiction: spontaneity.

Eugene (Gene, I called him, only initializing his last name out of regard for his privacy) is my fraternity brother from my college days in the late 1960s. Since then, he’s been a prolific best-selling author of nonfiction books on science, technology, and the environment. Good man. Internal. Sometimes a loner. Imaginative thinker. Though we were fraternity brothers, we weren’t really friends, but I admired him for how he viewed the world – that it was obviously insensible and half-cocked crazy.

One small event about Gene stands out. He took a day off from classes, went to the train station downtown, and asked for $5 worth of train ticket, having no idea where $5 would take him. As I recall, he got to a town some 60 miles east, disembarked, explored, walked around, enjoyed his solitude, and then returned to college late in the day. Today, this act may not seem unusual, but in the rigidly conformist 1960s (until the end of the decade, anyway) it was an enviable bit of originality. The bonus? Gene reported that the ticket seller had never in his long career been asked for $5 worth of train travel.

There are more like these, but another time.

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Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, humorist, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.