It is an annual tradition for Citarella (citarella.com) owner and local fishmonger Joe Gurrera to cook the feast of seven fishes for friends on Christmas Eve. He usually ends up cooking more like 10 or 11 dishes, and stuffed calamari is always one of them. Here, the local luminary shares his recipe pulled from his book, Joe Knows Fish: Taking The Intimidation Out of Cooking Seafood.
Stuffed Calamari by Citarella Owner & Original Fishmonger Joe Gurrera
• 2 tsp. plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 8 small white mushrooms, trimmed, cut into ¼-inch pieces
• 8 (4-to-6-inch) whole calamari (bodies and tentacles), cleaned
• ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 ½ cups marinara sauce, store-bought or homemade
• Chopped chives, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Heat 1 tsp. of the oil in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes or until slightly tender. Set aside in a medium bowl. Heat another teaspoon of the oil in the pan and saute the calamari tentacles for 3 minutes. Let the tentacles cool and chop them into ½-inch pieces. Add the tentacles to the bowl with the sauteed mushrooms, the breadcrumbs, the remaining ¼ cup oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. The stuffing mixture should be moist. Using your fingers, stuff the body of each calamari with the mushroom mixture, being careful not to pack it too tightly. Thread a toothpick through the open end of each calamari to keep it closed. Cover the bottom of an 8-by-10-inch baking dish with 1 cup of the marinara sauce and place the calamari snugly in the dish. Top with the remaining marinara sauce and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the toothpicks before serving. Sprinkle with chopped chives for garnish if desired. This dish reheats well the next day: Cover the baking dish with foil and heat the calamari in a 350 F preheated oven for 15 minutes.