Bites & Pieces: Slow Squid

Squid has a lot going for it. The species grows rapidly and so is considered sustainable. It’s high in protein and low in fat. Well, at least until you bread it, deep fry it, and serve it with marinara sauce. As bar food goes, it’s a favorite of mine. The Carlyle in Shirlington has a particularly good version. My mother always has it when visiting town. One of the most interesting squid dishes I had was at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge, MA. It was made Provencal style with garlic and tomatoes. It was an eye opener and one of my favorite ways to make squid.

I wanted to do something different with the squid I bought at my favorite waterfront fish monger on Friday (Captain White’s). Squid can be tricky to cook as if you cook it for more than a minute or two, you may as well serve up a plate of rubber bands. There are various strategies to tenderize it, but it comes down to a fast cook. Turns out that squid shares a characteristics with some of my favorite cuts of beef. You can cook it fast, but you can also cook it slow. In the case of beef, the collagen gradually breaks down and a tough cut of meat becomes melt in your mouth tender. That didn’t happen with the squid, but it was tender and the recipe is easy enough for a weeknight meal.

I slightly adapted a recipe originally published in Gourmet, which can be found on the Epicurious web site.. NPR also has a story on slow cooked squid with some recipes that I plan to investigate in the near future.

The dish has a flavor I’ve never gotten out of squid before. I love linguini with clams or mussels for the flavor one gets out of the shellfish, but don’t really care for the meat. We served the dish over black rice. It’d be good with linguini as well. I think that one could add fennel or another root vegetable to the dish.

I adapted the Epicurious recipe slightly. The original recipe calls for cooking just the garlic and parsley, then adding the squid. I decided to cook some chopped onions with the parsley and then add the garlic. I used a can of chopped tomatoes; they suggested using whole tomatoes and chopping them. The original recipe calls for adding ¾ of a cup of wine and ¼ cup of water after adding the squid and simmering for 10 minutes to reduce the liquid. Then, add the tomatoes and simmer on the stove top for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. I wanted to make this a simple dish, so I added the wine and tomatoes together, brought it up to a simmer, and then braised the dish in the oven.

[Edit: I forgot that I added a teaspoon or two of capers to the dish as I thought they would fit and, well, I love capers.]

I had two half pound squid bodies rather than the pound and a half, but it was plenty for us. I cut them up into half inch squares, then rinsed, dried and coated them with olive oil. I thought that would give me more even cooking at the onset. They were about a quarter inch thick, so made good meaty bites. This would work well with smaller squid and I would encourage you to use the tentacles. Octopus might be good in this dish as well.


1 ½ pounds of squid, cleaned
1/4 cup minced onions or shallots
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional or use to taste)
½ cup of dry white wine
28 oz. can of chopped tomatoes


Cut the squid bodies into pieces or rings. Combine with tentacles if you have them. Rinse and dry, then toss with olive oil to coat.

Once the squid is ready, it’s a good time to turn on the oven. I set mine at 350 degrees, but would probably use a lower temperature (perhaps 300) the next time.

Reserve 2 tablespoon of chopped parsley for garnish (which I forgot to use).

Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and parsley and stir for a minute. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Create a small open space, pour in a little olive oil, and add the red chile flakes. Mix everything together and add the squid. Cook for a minute or two and then add the wine and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and then throw into the oven, uncovered. Cook until the water evaporates, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove from the oven and serve over pasta or rice. Garnish with parsley.


6 Responses

  1. “It’s high in protein and low in fat. Well, at least until you bread it, deep fry it, and serve it with marinara sauce. ”

    Great line. This applies to a lot of things.


  2. Paul–who was it who was extolling the pleasures of deep fried cheese curds again????? 🙂

    But this sounds yummy. And, BTW, if you don’t live close enough to the water to have absolutely just-caught-fresh squid, Alton Brown is a big proponent of using frozen squid.


  3. “Squid can be tricky to cook as if you cook it for more than a minute or two, you may as well serve up a plate of rubber bands.”

    I have the hardest time with this aspect of it.


  4. We had some amazing squid during my honeymoon on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. That was probably fresh. Cooked on a big grill right on the beach.

    The stuff I cooked last night (and had for lunch today) was still partially frozen when I bought it. Worked just fine for me.



  5. Serves 6 12 squid, about 6 inches each, cleaned. 1/2 lb ricotta cheese 2 lbs fresh spinach, steamed lightly, and liquid squeezed out 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp black pepper 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg 2 Tbl finely minced fresh parsley 1 egg, slightly beaten 2 Tbl olive oil 2 cloves garlic, finely minced 1.5 lbs plum tomatoes, pureed in blender 1 Tbl tomato paste 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp dried 1.5 Tbl butter 3 Tbl pine nuts or sunflower seeds Cut off tentacles so that you have just the body cavity. Make sure to keep it whole so you can stuff it without leaks. Reserve the tentacles. Mix together the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, pepper, nutmeg, parsley and egg. Set aside. Heat the oil at medium in a large heavy skillet or saucepan. Add the garlic. Stir and cook for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil and add tomato paste. Lower heat and add rosemary. Simmer sauce for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the sauce is simmering, stuff the body of each squid only about 1/3 full of the spinach/cheese mixture. If you overstuff them, they will explode. You might also want to poke a hole or two in the body of the squid. Fasten the opening of each squid with a toothpick. After the sauce has cooked, place the stuffed squid in the simmering sauce. Add the tentacles to the sauce. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Then turn carefully and simmer for an additional 3 minutes. While the squid is cooking, melt the butter in a clean pan and toss the pine nuts in the butter until golden. Watch carefully; pine nuts have a tendancy to burn. Lift out stuffed squid to a warm, flat serving dish with sides. Spoon sauce around and garnish with pine nuts.


  6. Thanks, Angel!

    That sounds delicious.


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