For Christmas I received Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, and I intend to work my way through that cookbook this year! If you don’t know, Hazan was the Julia Child of Italian cooking. I decided to try this one out for New Years Eve because I’ve always wanted to make squid. Not that hard, and squid is generally inexpensive from Whole Foods (I spend less than $5 on the squid I used).
- A small packet or 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted (see note at bottom of post)
- The filtered water from the mushroom soak (see note at bottom)
- 4 whole squids with sacs measuring 4 ½-5 inches in length, not including the tentacles
- Black pepper (she recommends fresh from the mill)
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1/3 cup fine, dry unflavored bread crumbs
- Extra virgin olive oil: 1 tbsp for the stuffing plus 3 tbsps for cooking
- Darning needle and cotton threat or strong, round toothpicks (I used toothpicks)
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Thoroughly rinse the reconstituted dried porcini in several changes of cold water, then chop them very fine. Put them in a small saucepan together with the filtered liquid from their soak, turn on the heat to medium high, and cook until all the liquid has boiled away.
- Prepare the squid for cooking. [If you buy them, they’ll probably be already cleaned, as mine were. I don’t think I’m prepared to explain to you how to break down a whole squid, since I did not. If your squid is cleaned, just rinse off the bodies.] Chop the tentacles very fine.
- Put the chopped tentacles into a bowl together with the mushrooms, several grindings of pepper, salt, the chopped garlic, parsley, bread crumbs, and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Mix thoroughly with a fork until all the ingredients are uniformly blended.
- Set aside 1 tbsp of the mixture, and divide the rest into four equal parts, spooning it into the squid sacs. Stuff the sacs and close them with needle and thread or with toothpicks [surprisingly hard to stuff, but you get the hang of it, suture opening shut with whatever device you choose to use]. If any stuffing is left over, add it to the tablespoon you had set aside [I had a good amount of stuffing left over.]
- Choose a saute pan that can subsequently accommodate all the stuffed squid in a single layer. You can squeeze them in quite snugly because they will shrink in cooking. Put 3 tbsps of olive oil in the pan and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is very hot, put in the squid [be careful! mine spit oil at me, so I used a lid, but you can use a frying screen, etc]. Brown them all over, add a pinch of salt, a grinding of pepper, the white wine, and the stuffing mixture that you had set aside. Quickly turn the squid sacs once or twice, turn the heat down to cook at a very slow, intermittent simmer, and cover the pan.
- Cook for 45 minutes or more, depending on the size and thickness of squid, turning the sacs from time to time [some of my squid were smaller and only took about 30 minutes]. The squid is done if it feels tender when gently prodded with a fork.
- Transfer to a cutting board, let settle for a few minutes, then slice and arrange on a platter.
- Add 1-2 tbsps of water to the pan and boil it away while scraping loose all the cooking residues from the bottom of the pan. Spoon the contents of the pan over the squid, together with any juices left on the cutting board, and serve at once.
NOTE ON PORCINI:
How to reconstitute dried porcini mushrooms:
- For ¾-1 oz dried porcini: 2 cups of barely warm water. Soak the mushrooms in the water for at least 30 minutes.
- Lift out the mushrooms by hand, squeezing as much water as possible out of them, letting it flow back into the container in which they had been soaking. Rinse the reconstituted mushrooms in several changes of fresh water. Scrape clean any places where soil may still be embedded. Pat dry with paper towels. Chop them or leave them whole as the recipe may direct.
- Do not throw out the water in which the mushrooms have soaked because it is rich with porcini flavor. Filter it through a strainer lined with paper toweling, collecting it in a bowl or beaked pouring cup. Set aside to use as the recipe will subsequently instruct.