Hip to be square

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} Having ancestors that were foodie hipsters before either term was coined, and especially prior to it being cool, leaves me big oven mitts to fill. Being the oldest of a third-American born generation on my mother’s side, my cookbooks are stuffed with hand-me down recipes; many Sicilian-American that were easy to feed from during the Great Depression.

Even after traveling around the world and eating at some of the most extravagant restaurants, and tasting the most deliciously prepared meals, I often wondered how my great-grandmother created equally tasting, yet more satisfying dishes that fed a family of 11 children. What would today be considered cheap eats, these meals are so full of flavor, and have interesting combinations and at many times, exotic.

Besides good conversation to go along with tasty food, is a good story. This past holiday season I found myself taking a bite of stuffed squid, something my Grandma Bucolo would make on Christmas. This tender fish, filled with a bread mixture, almost like a meatball, is one of the best things I’ve ever consumed. Dying to attempt to recreate the recipe, I searched high and low to find “stuffable” calamari or also known as, squid. When buying squid, look for the smaller sized ones. The larger squid tend to be less tender and sweet tasting.

A tube of calamari should be an easy find at the grocer

After talking to one of my many aunts, Aunt Linda told me all about the dish, and I learned the recipe does call for making the stuffing the same a meatball mixture would be concocted except don’t add eggs or beef.

When making the stuffing for meatballs and calamari, she said it’s always best to start with fresh bread to make the crumbs (have I mentioned my family makes everything from scratch). Rolls can also be used if bread is out of the question. Don’t ever use stale bread. Two handfuls of breadcrumbs are enough for this recipe. A small food processor works really well.

2 rolls grated (processed) for crumbs

3-4 cloves of finely minced garlic

Salt and Pepper

About a ¼-cup grated Parmesan cheese

Italian parsley that has been finely minced.

Toss all together and use for stuffing the squid.

Rinse out the squid – inside and out and pat them dry. Fill the squid letting the stuffing drop down to the bottom. Then take a toothpick and skewer the top closed.

Aunt Linda puts “a good helping of olive oil in my fry pan and let it warm up on medium heat.” Tossed in some slivered garlic and sliced shallots (don’t use onions for this – they are too strongly flavored, the shallots are much milder). Let the shallots and garlic sauté, watch that the garlic doesn’t burn or there will be a bitter flavor left. After the shallots and garlic become soft and transparent, transfer them to a small bowl for later use. Add the squid a few at a time to brown them. If you have to add more oil that’s okay. Turn the squid often to make sure all sides have a nice golden color. They don’t have to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. After they have browned, put the garlic and shallots back in with the squid and add all to your tomato sauce. Or at this point you can put the squid, garlic and shallots in a baking dish and finish them in the oven. I like them with the tomato sauce. Let them simmer in the sauce for about an hour. No longer or the calamari will get tough. Then you can boil your macaroni and proceed as though for regular spaghetti.

Baking is best

Keep in mind, this recipe is over a century old, so some ad-libbing may be necessary. I also added my own touch to make it my own and work with what I had. So please feel free to incorporate the following, for example, I prefer to bake.

Preheat the oven 350 degrees

Bake for 20 min.

Let marinade overnight (with homemade sauce on top)

Piping hot

It sounds long and drawn out but really is quite simple. If you try this, good luck!

As time goes on, I am still gathering bits of stories from my grandmother’s sisters, my great aunts. Just when you think there wasn’t another small secret or story to go along with a dish that I’ve eating on Christmas Eve, St. Joseph’s Day dinner or otherwise, with family around, there is always another juicy tidbit to be learned.

Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley on top

Published by

Michelle Glynn

Traded globe-trotting for motherhood. Side hustling as a freelance writer since 2001.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s