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Baby Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp and Pancetta

Makes about 24 bite-sized pieces.

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 pounds baby calamari, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 8 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
For the stuffing:
  • 2 thin slices pancetta, chopped
  • 3 ounces shrimp, peeled, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped fine
  • 2 slices fennel bulb, chopped fine
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup panko flakes
  • 2 tablespoons Parmeggiano Reggiano, shredded
  • Fish sauce and hot sauce, to taste
Method

Preheat oven to 350º.

1. Remove the tentacles from the calamari and reserve for another purpose. 

2. Slice through the calamari tubes on one side. Dredge the tubes in flour, shake off excess flour and set aside.

3. Make the stuffing: Sauté the pancetta in a scant teaspoon of olive oil until just starting to crisp at the edges. Remove to a bowl. Put the onion in the pan and sauté for about five minutes, adding oil if necessary. Then add the carrot and chopped fennel and cook another four or five minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still have a little crunch left in them. Remove the mixture to the bowl.

4. Add the shrimp, garlic, crushed fennel seeds, oregano, parsley, egg and panko flakes to the bowl and mix with a fork. Correct seasoning with fish sauce and hot sauce and set stuffing aside.

5. Add a little oil to the pan, and heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. Brown the calamari tubes quickly on both sides and remove to a plate.

6. Add the wine and tomatoes to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about five minutes.

7. Meanwhile, fill the calamari bodies with the stuffing and place them on an oiled fireproof plate.

8. Drizzle the wine/tomato sauce over the stuffed calamari and bake for about 15 minutes. Turn on the broiler, top each stuffed calamari with a few shreds of the cheese, and broil about 3-4" from the heat for two or three minutes, with the oven door open, until the cheese melts and starts to bubble.

Serve immediately.

Note. You can do this with the larger calamari bodies (3-4") that are more easily found in the stores. If you do this, don't slice the body tubes open. Just push the filling into the bodies, close with a toothpick if you like (I find that it's really not necessary) and increase the baking time by about five minutes. With the larger ones, I omit the cheese and the run under the broiler and just serve them drizzled with the juices from the roasting pan and garnished with a scattering of minced parsley.

 

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