Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Beaconsfield Calamari

There's a calamari dish at The Beaconsfield, a bar not too far from my house, that I order every single time I go there. The Beaconsfield itself has sort of lost its allure for me over the past couple of years; when I first started going there, it was this perfect blend of great lighting, a nice bar to sit at, good music, and a crowd that was admittedly quite hipstery, and highly attractive, but not so much so that it bothered me. Now I feel like it's more the place where bearded dudes named Neil hit on you, and where there's an unspoken competition amongst women to see whose jeans are the most high-waisted. Anyway. They still have this wicked awesome calamari (and other quite great food, their kitchen has some really talented people working in it), so I go there on occasion. In my normal-waisted jeans.

In order to avoid exposure to jean-waist-height competitions, I wanted to try and make this dish at home. I had calamari in my freezer (frozen calamari is dirt-cheap and a great thing to have kicking around), and also used tomatoes, black olives, capers, a can of artichoke hearts, dill, and some white wine and/or chicken stock. Basically the whole mess goes into a pan (after the calamari has defrosted - important step) and you've got dinner. I served it with bread and a green salad. Here is the calamari patiently awaiting being eaten:

Bowl of deliciousness.
What you can't see from the photo is the stock/wine mixture infused with the dill that rests comfortably underneath all of that healthful calamari/artichoke/olive/tomato action. This dish needs bread. Bread is not optional.  

Beaconsfield Calamari

1 package of frozen calamari, defrosted (you can use the pre-sliced rings, or buy the whole bodies already cleaned, and then slice them up, which is what I did)
2 cloves of garlic
2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal, but not too finely sliced - make them about an inch long
half a pint of cherry tomatoes (or just a tomato, chopped)
a handful of black olives (don't bother de-pitting, just throw them in)
a can of artichoke hearts, hearts cut into quarters, ish
2 tbsp of capers
a good handful of dill (go heavy on the dill - the one deficit to the dish when I made it was not enough dill)
1/4 cup white wine (i.e. a couple of good splashes) - if you don't have wine, just use more chicken stock
1/4 cup chicken stock (see above re good splashes)
salt and pepper to taste (but watch it with the salt - capers and olives will give it some good salt already)
juice of a lemon
The first step is to throw the sliced calamari into boiling water for 10 seconds. MAX. Calamari is really easy to overcook, and this is the worst thing that can happen. To you. Ever. 10 seconds. In, out. It's kind of an annoying little step but it means that when the squid meets everyone else in the pan it'll only need two minutes to get acquainted and be ready.  

Once you've dealt with the calamari, saute the green onions and the garlic over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes (don't let the garlic brown - if that starts happening, move quickly to the next stage). Throw in the tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, capers, and dill. Then add the wine and/or stock, and stir everything around, still on medium-high heat, for a couple of minutes. Things should be sizzling. Then throw in your already 10-second boiled calamari, and the juice of your lemon. Mix everything up good for a minute or two and c'est tout. Serve in bowls, and make sure each person gets some of the delicious broth.

Action shot!
In theory, I thought this would serve four. In reality, it served two. Here is a shot of my friend Phil digging into his calamari (or more accurately, following my annoying instructions to dip his bread into his bowl just so, in order for me to get a 'candid, eating action shot').

This is a really quick, lovely summer meal. But it's also a keeper for winter as most of the ingredients are items you might have in your pantry/freezer. And, best of all, you can eat this in the comfort of your own backyard, sans dudes named Neil and hipster Mom jeans.  

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