Lunch with Rebecca

"I don't have a recipe for stuffed quahogs, but I do have a few hints," says Rebecca Gilbert of Martha's Vineyard. I'm sitting at her kitchen table holding my belly, consumed with a platter of her home baked stuffed clams.

I'm here to do an interview on her farm—Native Earth Teaching Farm, in Chilmark—but I've eaten one, two, three clams, now, and I can't leave without advice.

Happily, she's willing. "Use good white bread," she begins. "Most things I like whole grain, but this is an important exception." It must be dry, she explains, or else it won't crumble well. The quahogs must be fresh, and steamed open, then chopped into bite size bits. (She traded bacon for hers). Add chopped onions—very fine—or even better, leeks. Other vegetables can be added now, too, but only if you wish.

Most important of all is the fat. The onions in the stuffies I devoured for lunch were fried in bacon fat from one of teh farm's Berkshire pigs. Along with bacon, bread, and veggies, these clams have marjoram and thyme. "Oh! and a pinch of 'slap ya mama,'" says Rebecca, "it's a Cajun spice mix from Louisiana."

She mixes in a big bowl with salt and pepper, and an egg or two for binding. If it needs more liquid, she advises, add clam some juice to keep things mois; it should be like meatloaf in texture. Of course the final steps are easy—pack, bake, and enjoy. But best of all, she says, they can be frozen and saved. "In fact," she admits as I leave, "that's what we ate today."

If they're that good frozen, imagine how lovely they'd be fresh. I can't give you a recipe as she doesn't have one, but here are some basic proportions:

4 slices dry bread : 12 large quahogs : 2-3 slices bacon, with fat : 1 large onion : 1 egg.

I hope you'll give it a shot.

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