STUFFED SQUID (CONTINENTAL)
Well, I went out on the cutting edge (so to speak) in the kitchen this evening, inspired by a combination of events: Fresh baby squid that came highly recommended from the local fishmonger (St. Matthews Seafood in Louisville, a great place) ... vague memories of Calmar Farci in Montpellier many years ago ... and a need to come up with a dinner to match the wine up for discussion on the CompuServe Wine Forum's Palate Calibration Tasting Fetzer Barrel Select Chardonnay ... not a "food wine."
A hearty, earthy, spicy stuffed squid creation in the Franco-Italian tradition seemed just right, and it was. Here's what I did:
Wash thoroughly six baby squid. Trim, dry and set aside the "tubes," and trim the tentacles and process them in the Cuisinart (steel blade) into a paste.
Peel one medium eggplant, cut into small dice; salt and leave to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Take out and squeeze dry in paper towels.
Soak one ounce dried porcini mushrooms in two cups hot water for 30 minutes. Rinse and chop fine; strain soaking water through paper towels and reserve.
Mince three or four fat garlic cloves and two tablespoons of parsley.
Put it all together:
Sautee the garlic and eggplant cubes in enough olive oil to coat a nonstick sautee pan. Add the chopped squid tentacles and continue sauteeing until they lose their raw color. Stir in the parsley. Add a good sprinkle of dried red- pepper flakes to taste. Stir in the chopped porcini and the strained mushroom water, and simmer over medium to high heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid is completely reduced. Allow to cool.
Stuff the six squid "tubes" with this mixture, filling them fairly full (they'll be shaped like baby footballs) but allowing a little room for expansion so they don't pop when they're cooked. Close off the open ends with wooden toothpicks.
Fire up a large cast-iron skillet (chicken fryer) with 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil and a couple of smashed cloves of garlic. When it's hot, pop in the stuffed squid and brown them on all sides, taking care to keep them moving around so they don't stick. Add 1/4 cup white wine, let it reduce a bit, and then lower heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned; I use the boxed Italian type). When it comes to the simmer, reduce heat to very low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the lid for the last 5 or 10 minutes and turn up the heat until the sauce thickens.
You can serve the squid "footballs" whole, perched on the sauce, or slice them into "coins" and arrange them on the sauce on a large plate.
I whomped up a very simple spaghetti-and-garlic accompaniment: Slice two large garlic cloves PAPER thin, and cook them slowly in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick sautee pan while the pasta is boiling. Drain the pasta, dump it into the garlic-and-oil, and toss it a couple of times. Serve, and add the tomato sauce from the squid with Parmigiano Reggiano.
With a green salad, this was plenty. And the robust flavors actually stood up to the oaky Chardonnay!