It’s somewhat unfortunate that after I’d committed this recipe to the weekly menu I read an article in Slate Magazine about the idea of restaurants defrauding the public by subbing in pig anus for squid in their deep-fried calamari appetizers. Now, to be clear, there is NO evidence that this has ever happened, much less on a regular basis.
The article was really about urban legends and how they get started and then spread like wildfire, and this idea was used to illustrate the point. Thus, it is an urban legend and not true.
In fact, the article was entitled “Rump Faker” which means two things: 1) you had to have been between the ages of 12 and 29 in 1992 to get the joke, and 2) that it is not true. I was around 13 when that song came out, so I very much got the joke. I knew the song well. I also knew the less popular but still catchy middle school teacher rendition, “Just Learn Your Verbs.” Or was it called “Verb Learner”? I digress.
Even though it’s an urban legend and there’s nothing to worry about the next time you feel the urge to order fried calamari, the very notion is disturbing – enough to make me slightly pause before including squid on my grocery shopping list.
But, I can assure you, there are no butts in this stew! This dish is deceptively simple and easy to throw together, it’s extremely tasty (we raved for quite awhile), and very elegant – perfect for a date night. Serve some chilled white wine alongside, light some candles, throw on some sexy music, grab your other half and you’ve got yourself one romantic evening.
Source: adapted from Giada’s Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis
3 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dry white wine
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. squid, cleaned, bodies thinly sliced, tentacles cut in half lengthwise
1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 to 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium to large soup pot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 to 60 seconds. Turn the heat to low. Slowly add the white wine and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce, thyme, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, cook 8 minutes, maintaining its gentle simmer and not boiling. Stir in the squid and cook another 2 minutes, until opaque. Turn the heat to very low after 2 minutes. If you overcook squid, it becomes quite rubbery and unpleasant.
While the stew simmers, drizzle the bread with olive oil. Toast until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic cloves. Serve immediately with the stew.
Of course you can eat this with a spoon and the bread alongside, which is quite tasty, but my personal favorite way was to tear the bread into chunks and dip it into the stew, scooping up some calamari in the process and eating it that way.