Saturday, November 19, 2011

Txipirones en su Tinta (Squid in Ink Sauce)

According to every American website and magazine, I should be spending these days thinking about pies and cranberry relish, about on-sale luxury gifts for my holiday lists. But I'm not. I'm still thinking about sweet and briny shrimp the size of your thumbnail,

horses sunning themselves on wind-swept mountains,

and bucolic towns in rolling hills (which also have Michelin-starred restaurants).

And squid.

Okay, I realize that many out there are not fans of squid (and I also realize that my somewhat turd-like picture probably doesn't help the cause). Squid are, for lack of a better word, kind of oogy. It's hard to see those tentacles without imagining them wrapping wetly around your ankles (or is that just me?), and jet-black is not generally an appetizing color when it comes to sauces (or, really, any food item beyond olives and caviar). But despite its aesthetic handicaps, this is one heck of a dish.

I've heard it said that squid should be cooked either two minutes or two hours. There's some truth to this -- a quick turn in the pan leaves squid tender, but cook them for more than a few minutes and they toughen up to an unappetizingly rubbery consistency. If you want to return them back to a chewable delicacy, you've got to stew them for a good long time until they soften again. This traditional recipe takes the long view, which not only softens the squid, but deepens the flavor of the dark, briny sauce. And while the squid picture lacks the majesty of my other shots of the Basque Country, it captures the same spirit: a simple, un-fussy approach to some of the best ingredients in life.

Txipirones en su Tinta (Squid in Ink Sauce)

traditional, as interpreted by I├▒aki Guridi
serves 4

1 1/2 lbs squid, cleaned
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 red onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 packets squid ink
1/4 cup red wine
1 cup water or fish/seafood broth, plus additional as needed
2 slices baguette, cubed
bread or rice for serving

Take the tentacles of the squid, and stuff them inside of the tubes (squid in the Basque Country are conveniently sold this way, but if yours come separately this step won't take much time). Don't worry about closing the tubes around their contents -- as the squid cook both the tubes and tentacles will swell, sealing them into neat little packets.

Heat half of the olive oil in a soup pot or large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the squid in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches), sauteing until they brown lightly, ~3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, lower the heat to medium-low, and add the onion and pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until totally softened but not browned, ~30 minutes.

While the onion and pepper are cooking, carefully open the ink packets (unsurprisingly, this stuff kinda stains), and squeeze into a small glass. Add the wine and the water/broth, stirring well to blend.

When the onions and pepper are soft, add the ink-wine mixture, and saute for a few more minutes. Add the cubed bread, and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender (or use an immersion blender), and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add additional water/broth if needed, to create a gravy-like consistency.

Return the squid to the pan, along with the ink sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover and lower the heat until it just barely maintains its simmer. Cook for an hour. Serve with bread or rice to sop up the sauce.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree that this is a fabulous dish! Thanks for the recipe!