Thursday, March 09, 2006

Kinder, Gentler Squid

The pork was beginning to cloud my brain. Thank goodness cooking is often an inexact science, because I was making a lot of mistakes.

First of all, I started much too late, and I was really feeling the time pressure. When stuffing squid, especially squid that are too small to be stuffed properly, one must stay relaxed. (It's easy to miss those narrow, floppy openings, and giving in to frustration never helps.) In my haste, I also messed up the stuffing itself. I had rinsed some tentacles to be chopped, but I didn't dry them well. Ditto with a handful of parsley. So when I threw tentacles, garlic, parsley, and a bit of bread into the food processor, I ended up with more a paste than a stuffing. I forgot salt and pepper, and, for good luck, a hot pepper, so I added them to the processor at the end. But since the stuffing was already well chopped, I only pulsed the mixture a few times, which left large pieces of red-hot chile that would surprise us later on.

Margy, surely famished, was now minutes from home, and the bodies weren't even stuffed. I didn't want her ruining herself for my squid by eating peanuts -- or worse, more pork -- as she waited for dinner.

Having no choice, I hung in there and finished the job by somehow getting the slippery filling into its sleek white vessels, sealing the bodies shut with toothpicks. I sautéed onion and garlic in a Dutch oven, then added the squid along with some tomato paste, white wine, and shrimp stock, covering the pot and leaving it to simmer slowly for about 40 minutes. Finally I could relax and make a salad. I gave Margy a glass of wine, which helped her endure the wait a bit more agreeably.

In the end, everything was fine. The stuffing wasn't exactly airy, but it wasn't overly dense either. And the flavor was there, including a few fire blasts when we found the chilies. This squid was in a forgiving mood.

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