A lot of people love Jamie Oliver for his informal, cheekie-chappie attitude and antics, which they welcome as a nice break from the seemingly unapproachable TV chefs of the past. Personally, I find his mockney styles and instant familiarity grating, and have let this issue influence my opinion of his cooking. However, I’m big enough of a man to concede that, off-screen, he’s almost certainly a guy I would like, that I have great admiration for his efforts at giving low-income, disadvantaged kids opportunities to work in his restaurants, and, more recently, I’ve come to terms with the fact that he’s a pretty good cook too.
From the first, fateful occasion I ate morcilla I was hooked, and since finding a reliable source of it close by us in Brooklyn, I’ve been looking for ways of including it in my cooking. So, giving credit where it’s due, Jamie Oliver’s recipe for squid stuffed with black pudding was just the inspiration I needed. To the naked eye what follows might look like a simple execution of his recipe, but as I say, his recipe was just inspiration. I read the recipe, but did not follow it. I added a degree of chipotle heat to the sauce and switched the white wine for plenty of lemon juice, and to my mind, the addition of some spiciness and acid is what elevates this dish beyond its already delectable level, cutting, as it does, the richness of the blood sausage.
Where this dish would sit in terms of global cuisine, I’m not sure. Its inspiration was British, its sauce Mexican-influenced, and its stuffing almost Spanish in flavor, but the dish really worked well regardless of its provenance. We made it as a tapa, but it would work perfectly as a first course, as a light main course, or even cold as part of a salad, and because the squid look really cool, but are really simple to make, they’d impress the hell out of dinner guests, providing, that is, they were adventurous enough to eat blood sausage.
Morcilla-Stuffed Squid (Calamares Rellenos con Morcilla)
Ingredients (serves 4)
8-10 squid (bodies, not tentacles)
2 small morcilla links, or 6oz of your favorite black pudding/blood sausage, casings removed
1/2 spanish onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed & chopped
1tsp sweet paprika/pimenton dulce
1tbsp lemon juice
1tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
2 plum tomatoes, diced finely
3 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 clove garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water
1 pinch salt
1 squeeze lemon juice
- Rinse out your squid with cold water and remove any cartilidge or other crap if you bought them whole.
- Add oil to saute pan and, when at medium heat, add onions. Allow to sweat for 3-5 mins until soft.
- Break up morcilla/sausage with your fingers and add to pan. Continue to break up with a spoon while it cooks.
- When onions and morcilla are well combined, add garlic and paprika/pimenton, and mix well.
- Increase heat to medium high and add lemon juice.
- When ready, mixture should be well-combined and pretty coherent rather than loose or solid.
- Allow to cool enough so you can handle it.
- Fire-up your grill/barbecue to medium-high.
- Salt interior of squid lightly and stuff with mixture and “sew” top closed with a toothpick.
- Do not overfill. Squid shrinks when cooked and too much filling will cause it to leak and make a mess of your grill.
- Oil your grill so squid don’t stick and grill them for 2-3 minutes per side or until grill-marks have developed and squid are nice and firm.
- Remove from grill and allow to come to room temperature.
- Slice and serve with sauce.
- Heat saute pan to medium. Add half olive oil and garlic.
- When garlic is lightly colored, add tomatoes.
- Tomatoes should melt into a sauce texture with a little stirring.
- Add water, salt, parsley and chipotle powder. Combine well.
- Reduce heat. Add lemon juice and remaining olive oil.
- Serve over and under the stuffed squid.