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The stuffies at Connie and Ted’s brings New England soul food to the west coast, delivering an authentic east coast experience with every bite.

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Transcript

- Stuffies are like snowflakes, and everybody has their own version. Here at Connie and Ted's, we wanted ours to be about freshness, lots of clams, lots of pork, and some delicious little seasonings in there just to bring the whole thing together. Hi, I'm Michael Cimarusti, and I'm a partner here at Connie and Ted's. - And I'm Sam Baxter. I'm the chef at Connie and Ted's here in West Hollywood, California. - I spent all my summers in Rhode Island in Narragansett, and so, clam shacks were always the place that we would go. The restaurant is named after my grandparents, Constance and Ted, and with this restaurant, what I really wanted to do was sort of recreate the menu that you would find in a clam shack back in Rhode Island, but we wanted to do it, everything, 100% made in house. - [Sam] This food is the soul food of New England. We couldn't call ourselves a clam shack or a New England style seafood house without stuffies on the menu. - Given the fact that my uncle is Portuguese, I knew that I wanted our stuffy to sort of be an homage to the Portuguese culture that still exists in coastal New England today. - These stuffies are part of the menu here at Connie and Ted's. We're hitting with nostalgic soft points in people's hearts from growin' up in New England and also just bringing New England to people that have never had a chance to experience it before. When we do anything here at Connie and Ted's, we always want to use the best possible ingredients we can, and you got the smokiness of the linguiça, the sweetness of the peppers and onions, that garlic kinda comin' through also, and just that clammy kinda oceany goodness, and I wouldn't have it any other way. - First thing we're gonna do is dice the linguiça. The linguiça's important for its flavor and for the fat that it provides, but really, the dish is about the clam so we wanna keep it small. - We have a pan over medium-high to high heat. We get the olive oil just to the point where it's about to smoke and then add in the sausage, let it brown and render out some of the flavor. - While we're rendering out the sausage, dice the onion and the bell pepper. We really want them to almost melt away throughout the cooking process so they're still recognizable, but really, they give up all of their flavor and sweetness to the overall product. - Once linguiça's rendered, we're gonna pull it from the pan and you wanna keep all that fat 'cause that fat is great flavor at this point. We're gonna add our onions and our peppers. We're gonna sweat the veg to get it tender. Also, we're extracting flavor is always kinda the name of the game for us. - Whilst I'm sweating the peppers and the onions, I'm gonna make a little garlic paste, and I use a little bit of Morton kosher salt to do that. It's sort of an old school trick that helps you pulverize the garlic into a paste with the salt acting as an abrasive. Using the side of the knife, grind the minced garlic into a paste. - So, once the peppers and onions have reached a desired doneness, we're gonna add our garlic. We don't wanna add the garlic too early because the heat needed to cook the peppers and onions could potentially burn the garlic. Once the veg is all the way cooked, the garlic is aromatic, we're gonna take our reserved sausage and put that back in the pan. Toss it all together, just kinda marry all the ingredients one more time. So, once everything's cooked, pull the mixture onto a cooling tray. I'm gonna spread it out in a nice, thin layer. The idea is you don't wanna mix the warm vegetable and sausage mixture with the cold clams and the breadcrumbs. - While the mixture cools, we're gonna shuck our cherrystone clams. Once we have our clams shucked, we're holding onto everything. So, we're keeping the juice, we're keeping the clam meat, and then we're keeping the shells, which is gonna be the vessel for our stuffy mixture. - When we chop the clams, we wanna actually kinda keep the clam pieces quite large compared to the other items that we've chopped earlier. So, when you get that bite of clam, you know that you're gettin' clam. - Now, we're ready to make our stuffy mixture. We're gonna start out by adding our cooled sausage mixture to a large mixing bowl. Next, we'll add our clams and our fresh breadcrumbs, our parsley, Tabasco, and our Worcestershire sauce. We're gonna add the zest of just one lemon, and we wanna do this because we want that sort of pervasive flavor of lemon that the zest will give you. And we're gonna use the Morton fine sea salt to season the stuffies, and the reason that we do that is because it dissolves very very readily and offers us that perfect level of salinity that we're looking for. We finish the mixture with extra virgin olive oil and the clam juice that we reserved. I like to mix everything by hand. You're sort of feeling for a particular consistency and a particular sort of level of moisture. You have to sort of suss out when you're putting it all together. - To hold the stuffies upright, we're gonna take a baking sheet and fill it with Morton kosher salt. It acts as a nice little pedestal for the clams to sit on, and it also kinda helps radiate some heat from the bottom and really help with the cooking. We couldn't do this process without the Morton kosher salt. When stuffing the shells, you're basically just looking for a domed filling. Imagine if you had both sides of the shell still stuck together. The amount of stuffing you'd use is what would make the shell look like a whole clam again. - You wanna keep the mixture light and fluffy and loose because if you pack it too much, then they just becomes like a gummy, bready mess and they feel much heavier than they would otherwise. A light touch is important. Right before we put 'em in the oven, we're gonna put a little bit more fresh breadcrumb overtop of the stuffy and then moisten that breadcrumb with extra virgin olive oil. - We're gonna bake our stuffies in a oven around 375 degrees. Timing takes between 20 to 25 minutes. When it looks golden brown and has that nice texture on the outside of it, they're done and ready to go. - We remove the stuffies from the oven, we put a little bit of the Morton coarse sea salt in a bowl. We put the coarse sea salt in a bowl just 'cause it's easier to control, and then we just add a little pinch over top of each one right before they're served. - [Sam] When it comes time to serving, we're gonna take another tray and fill it with Morton kosher salt. We want to have that warmed up a little bit, and we'll place four of those stuffies on that tray. We have Connie and Ted's stuffies right there. - When you eat our stuffies here at Connie and Ted's, the first thing that you get are the clams and the pork and then the sweetness from the aromatics and the spices from the linguiça, and of course, you get that perfect sort of pitch of salinity from the Morton coarse salt that we finished the clams with. - People love the stuffies for various reasons. Either this is something they grew up with in their childhood or they're having them for the first time and just have no idea how much flavor can be packed in these little shells. - They might not be your mother's stuffies, but we hope that they'll be a faithful rendition of what a great stuffy should be and that they transport you back to summers in coastal New England. To me, this restaurant, from its inception, is always about nostalgia and family, and I think these stuffies are emblematic of that in every way.