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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sicilian Stuffed Squid - Calamari Ripieni

When I was in Milan, I had squid and octopus many times, but the most memorable of those times is when I had calamari the Sicilian way.  It appeared on the English menu just as "Stuffed" as if it was so obvious that it would be calamari and no extra precisions were needed.  There is another Sicilian "stuffed" recipe including sardines, and I will get to that soon, but these calamari were really intriguing.  I had figured out most of the ingredients after indulging that evening, but a bit of research on the Sicilian recipe brought to my surprise the use of capers.  I couldn't figure those out on my own simply because I'm used to using capers more as a salad or bagel topping than cooking with them.  It is very Sicilian to add capers to things, so I happily recreated this gem..along with the other gems I tasted that night.
Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a meal
300g (10.5oz) cleaned calamari tubes (I used 24 small but use 4 large whole if you can find them)
drizzle olive oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
70g (2.5 oz) breadcrumbs
handful chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp capers
2 Tbsp pecorino cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
few grinds black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch fleur de sel
1.  Make the stuffing by mixing all the ingredients together.  If using whole calamari, chop up the tentacles and add them to the stuffing.  If using just the tubes, take 4 of the small tubes and chop them up into the stuffing.
2.  Carefully stuff each tube.  They will shrink during cooking, so just keep that in mind.  If using larger tubes, you may need to "sew" the end with a toothpick.  I decided not to do that.  If you have extra, sprinkle some of the breadcrumbs over the stuffed tubes and drizzle some olive oil on top of them.
3.  Bake for 20 minutes at 180°C 355°F.

These were perfect and exactly what I was hoping!  They were subtley spicy, wonderfully tender.. full of texture from the crunchy breadcrumbs on the exterior and punch from the capers and cayenne on the inside.  It was also very easy and can be prepared ahead of time and cooked during happy hour!
I served this along with the stuffed sardines for an Italian dinner party and everyone was very enthusiastic about it.. to the point of overeating...
Here is the pic from the Sicilian restaurant in Milan I was trying to replicate:
Aside from the fried onion rings, I think I did a rather decent job!
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