Tuesday, May 1, 2012
How to stuff a squid
I was readying myself mentally to prepare a batch of these stuffed calamari when a much better idea came to mind.
Me: "Anna, it's me. Fine, fine, you? Good. Hey, look, what are you doing Friday night? I'm driving down and wondered if you felt like feeding me."
She: "Of course. What do you want me to make?"
See how simple life can be.
Anna, you may recall from numerous mentions in this space, is a very dear aunt of mine. I grew up in an apartment just below the one she and her daughter Josephine occupied, in one of two buildings that my grandfather had owned for the purpose of housing his entire family.
Anna is my mother's only sister, and is just like a mother to me. Not for a nanosecond did I think that she would answer my query in any way other than how she did. And so by the time I rolled into New York, five and a half hours after leaving my driveway, I was way more than ready for the smell of my aunt's cooking.
Not to mention the pure joy of watching her prepare the stuffed calamari that I have been crazy about my whole life.
The bodies are what get stuffed, of course, and you can buy them cleaned all by themselves if you like. But we like the tentacles a whole lot, and so Anna always makes sure to get the whole squid. For this recipe the tentacles are used as an ingredient in the stuffing, and in the sauce.
What goes on here is that the tentacles get chopped up and added to a mixture of breadcrumbs, eggs and seasonings. If you are not a fan of the tentacles just don't use them. You'll be looking at a simple bread stuffing, which is fine.
After the stuffing mix is ready you take your bodies one at a time and hold open the wide end, like so.
Fill a teaspoon with the mix and lightly stuff the cavity of the squid. Two filled spoons should be about right, as they shouldn't be overstuffed.
With two toothpicks close the end by making a diagonal cross, making sure that the toothpicks pierce through both sides of the squid. This keeps the filling from escaping during cooking.
In a hot pan quickly saute the stuffed calamari in olive oil, but only for about a minute per side.
Then toss into a simple marinara sauce and simmer for around 30 minutes.
A sauce infused with the flavor of calamari is a beautiful thing. We usually serve it with pasta.
My Aunt Anna is a very good cook, and she makes many things that I enjoy a great deal. These stuffed calamari have got to be in her Top 5.
Anna says that I shouldn't show you all her picture, but since she's never used a computer in her life, odds are pretty good that she'll never know. I hope.
Makes about a dozen
4 1/2 lbs. squid, cleaned and including tentacles
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 extra large eggs
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the squid. The texture should be paste-like but still pretty loose.
Chop a few of the tentacles and add to the mixture, setting the rest of them aside.
Scoop out a couple spoonfuls of the stuffing and place into the cavity of a squid, then seal the cavity with two toothpicks inserted in a diagonal fashion. Repeat process with the remaining squid.
Very quickly fry the stuffed squid in hot olive oil, but only for a minute per side. As each of the squid are done drop them into a simmering pot of a simple marinara sauce of your choosing and cook for around 30 minutes. (Also add the remaining tentacles to the sauce; and if there are any squid left unfilled, cut them into pieces and add those to the sauce as well.)
Remove the toothpicks and serve.