Seppie ripiene Puglia
Preparation - Medium
Serves 4 - 8
These pretty little pockets of squid, their tops cut open to show the stuffing inside, are served at Gambrinus, an unassuming hole-in-the-wall trattoria on the Taranto waterfront across from where the fishing boats tie up. Nicla Granozio, an exuberant young cook from Puglia's other coast, the Adriatic near Bari, showed me how to make them. For best results buy the smallest, freshest calamari or squid you can find, with their tentacles still attached. Nicla doesn't use tomatoes or olives in her stuffing but other cooks do. If you leave out the tomatoes, you'll need to add a little more oil and/or milk to compensate.
In Puglia, these are sometimes served as a main course on a serving platter surrounded, in season, by a sauce of fresh green peas stewed in olive oil with a few fragments of sliced onion.
About 3 pounds whole, uncleaned squid (calamari) of the same size (about 12 squid)
2 cups freshly grated bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
8 large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped, optional
2 or 3 drained canned plum tomatoes, chopped, optional
1/2 cup dry white wine, or a little more if necessary
Lemon wedges, optional
Mixing bowl, roasting pan.
PREPARE the squid: Rub the thin, purplish membrane from the outsides of the squid, being careful not to tear the bodies, or hoods, as you do so. (It isn't necessary to remove every scrap of this but the squid make a more attractive presentation without it.) Set the squid on a cutting board and cut a slit in the hood from the base of each squid to the top (leaving the tentacles attached at the base) to enable you to pull away the insides. Discard the innards, including the bony strip called the beak, then rinse the squid bodies carefully inside and out and set aside to drain. Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut away from the fanlike fins on either side of the squid body and the single very long tentacle. Chop these into small pieces.
IN a medium bowl, combine the chopped squid with the bread crumbs and eggs. Chop two of the garlic cloves with the onion, add 1/3 cup of the parsley, and add to the bread crumbs. Stir in the milk and 3 tablespoons of the oil and mix together briefly. Add salt and pepper, the cheese, and, if you wish, the olives and tomatoes. Using your hands, mix everything together very well. Stuff each squid hood loosely with the mixture.
MINCE the remaining clove of garlic and mix with the remaining 3 tablespoons of parsley. In a pan large enough to hold all the squid in one layer, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat and add the minced garlic and parsley. When the aromatics begin to sizzle, arrange the stuffed squid in the frying pan, open side down. Brown for about 3 or 4 minutes, then carefully turn and brown the other side. When brown on both sides, add the white wine to the pan, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the squid are tender; if the pan starts to look dry, add more wine.
SERVE immediately, with lemon wedges, if desired, and the small amount of sauce left in the pan spooned over the squid.