It's hard to recall life before DVRs. I don't really watch much TV, but most of the shows I do watch are on thru the day - no, not soaps. I'm talking about cooking shows, of course. Most air thru the day so I have our DVR set to record my favorites: Giada at Home, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Jamie at Home, occasionally Tyler's Ultimate... the list goes on. Add to that the competitive cooking shows - currently I'm watching the Next Food Network Star and I know the season finale of Top Chef Masters is awaiting me. All of this usually leads to a back-up of food shows on the DVR. Add that to my husband's motocross events, news shows, and concerts, and our DVR tends to be pretty full. But it's so much better than sitting through all those commercials.
After dinner I usually head upstairs to watch one of my shows while he heads downstairs to play guitar. Since I can fast forward through commericals (and recipes I don't like), it takes no more then 20 minutes to watch most shows. I do get a lot of ideas from them - not only for recipes, but also techniques. One show I've tried many recipes from is Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Our all-time favorite from the show is Anne Burrell's Eggs Flamenco, but I've tried many others. I saw her make this calamari and decided I must try it. I knew I could get whole calamari at Whole Foods and the other ingredients are all standard in my kitchen.
It comes together pretty quickly. If you're having company, you can stuff the rolls and prep the sauce ahead, then just pop the rolls into the sauce about 30 minutes before you want to serve dinner. Anne's original recipe calls for pulsing the shrimp in a food processor but I left mine chunky because we prefer more bite. I have to say, this was very tasty but texturally it wasn't our favorite. The filling, even with the chunks of shrimp, was very soft - if I made it again, I'd probably try to use more shrimp and less breadcrumb and egg. But give it a try - you might love the texture - and cooking the rolls in the sauce lends a delicious taste.
Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp and Spinach
recipe adapted from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell
For the calamari:
- 11 clean medium calamari tubes, about 5 to 6 inches long
- 1/2 pound peeled, deveined medium shrimp, roughly chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
- 2 cups coarsely chopped baby spinach
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/2 bunch fresh oregano, leaves chopped
- 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small onions, finely diced
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
To make the calamari:
Roughly chop 3 of the calamari tubes and add to a large bowl with the coarsely chopped shrimp and garlic. Add the spinach, eggs, bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, and pinch of crushed red pepper. Season with salt and stir to combine. The mixture should be a little chunky but moist and holding together. Optional: Test the seasoning of the mix by making a mini patty, cooking it in a small pan and eating it. It should taste really good! If it doesn't it is probably missing salt. Add more salt, to taste. Divide the stuffing among the 8 remaining calamari bodies and secure closed with toothpicks.
To make the sauce:
Coat a large, wide skillet or saucepan with olive oil and add the onions and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Season with salt and put the saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions until they are soft and aromatic, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill or puree them in a food processor and add them and 1 cup of water to the pan. Season with salt, to taste, and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
Add the calamari to the pan and cook for 20 to 25 minutes turning them over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the calamari from the pan and remove the toothpicks. Reduce the sauce to thicken, if needed. Arrange the calamari on a serving platter and cover with the sauce before serving.