Stuffed calamari, stuffed squid, is a dish that I remember from childhood precisely because I wouldn’t touch it. I think for children and for many adults, the very word “squid” is a turn-off. Words that begin with “squ” seem to suggest something unpleasant. Squash is another food that suffers from this linguistic problem. The association of “squ” words with things not always appealing had some foundation. Just think of the lexicon of “squ” words: squirm, squat, squint, squeal, squish, squalor, squander.The very “skwah” sound of these words is not appealing.
I may be speculating without sufficient reason, but I would suggest that another very clear indication that the “squ” of “squid” is the thing that turns folks away from this dish is the fact that its fried version is very popular. The fried version is called “calamari,” a word that has not only has no negative connotations but may even be charmingly alluring.
For whatever reason, stuffed squid vanished from the Christmas Eve menu quite some time ago. I think it’s time to bring it back. The trick of stuffed squid is that it takes a very long time to braise. Like octopus, squid is edible in one of two extreme ways. Squid must be cooked very rapidly with a quick fry or searing or it must be braised for about two hours or more. Anything between the extremes is shoe leather. Stuffed squid does not lend itself to the quick method. Stuffed squid requires braising. The braising melds the sweetness of the squid with the sweetness of the tomatoes. The wine, garlic and other ingredients enrich the dish with multiple layers of taste. Find another name for this dish and everyone will love it. Serve it not only for Christmas Eve but any time alone or as a first course before a roast.
What you need
The Mise-en-place: getting it all together. The most important part of cooking is having all ingredients prepared and ready to use.
Plate and serve
Stuffed Squid, Calamari imbotitti