Calamari always brings me back to my university days. We’d just started The Hot Plate and I was in full swing teaching friends, and especially my roommate, Maeve, how to cook. Before I get into this story I really have to give her full credit for her trust in me. In third year, I took Maeve down to Atwater Market in Montreal. There was a fish store in the market where restaurants sourced their products that I’d been dying to try, and we desperately needed to stock up on groceries. Doing errands quickly morphed into playing hooky, and the fun began! I suggested that instead of buying prepared calamari rings that we buy whole calamari instead (skin, guts and all). Maeve was a great sport and decided she’d be willing to learn how to gut and clean her own dinner. How barbaric! Well, to this day we still laugh about it.
When we arrived home we realized just how much went into cleaning them. First, we had to wash the bodies. Okay, not so bad until you realize that you have to skin them, too. It is like peeling the skin off a moulting ghost. Then comes the “wings.” The wings essentially have to be torn off from the outside of the body. Then it gets really fun. I asked Maeve to reach inside the bodies and carefully remove the heads, tentacles, organs and cartilage. Just thinking about her reaction and her fearless attempt to conquer the calamari makes me double over laughing. Finally, we had the bodies 90% cleaned when I told her to slice off its eyes. That was probably the easiest task we’d had all afternoon.
After all that work, we grilled up the bodies and enjoyed them on a simple feta orzo salad. In hindsight, we probably should have considered a dish like this, but then again hindsight is always 20/20!
Chorizo Stuffed Calamari
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cleaned calamari bodies with tentacles, if desired
1 large chorizo sausage
1/4 cup pitted diced cherries
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper
1. Preheat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Remove the chorizo from the casings and crumble into the skillet, sauté for 5 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic, sauté for 1 minute.
2. Add the cherries to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until sausage is fully cooked and the cherries begin to release their juice, about two minutes longer.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley.
4. Preheat a grill pan or BBQ to high.
5. Stuff the calamari bodies with the sausage mixture. If desired, seal the end with toothpicks to avoid spilling. Brush the grill surface with the remaining olive oil and season the outside of the calamari with salt and pepper.
6. Grill on all side until cooked, about 2 minutes per side and 8 minutes total.
7. Serve on your favourite summer salad.
Amanda Garbutt is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients.
by Amanda Garbutt