You're going to win your next dinner party with this recipe. It looks complicated and sophisticated, but it's really just a few ingredients dolled up to look swank: squid, chorizo, rice, lemons. That's basically it. The key to success with this is the stuffing. Chorizo is chock full of spices and flavor, so you don't even need to add anything else except the roasted red pepper and garlic sauce that I've included (if you choose). It's quite tasty and can win over even the most squid squeamish.
1 lb. fresh calamari shells (20-25 pieces)
1/2 lb. chorizo
1 small onion finely diced
1-2 cup cooked rice
Juice of 2 lemons
Rind of 1/2 lemon
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Sauce for the squid
1 lb. red and/or yellow bell peppers, roasted
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
Notes about these ingredients
Squid: Your fishmonger might offer the shells and tentacles separately, or they might sell a mix of both together. You need shells for this recipe, but if you get tentacles, no problem. Chop them up and cook them with the chorizo. If they only offer whole squid, welcome to the world of squid butchering. Just cut the tentacles off and discard the membrane that separates the tentacles from the body.
Chorizo: I used the uncooked Mexican style chorizo, which I prefer for this recipe because it crumbles into teeny bits and distributes well throughout the stuffing. If you don't have access to that, get the cured Spanish style chorizo (as in Spain) and dice it finely.
Onion: I used 3 tiny cioppolini onions. Use whatever onion you have on hand. Or use a shallot if you have that. Whatever. Onion of some sort.
Rice: Use whatever rice you like. Best case scenario: use leftover rice. If you have leftover yellow (turmeric) or saffron rice, that's perfect. That's what I used. If you don't use leftover rice, this recipe will take twice as long because you'll have to cook rice.
Step 1: Making the Sauce
You can omit the sauce completely, but it really makes a difference, IMHO. If it's too much trouble to make from scratch, use canned or jarred roasted peppers. But roasting them on a gas flame is easy and satisfying if you're up for it.
You're basically going to put your peppers on top of a gas burner (or BBQ) and char them fully, turning them until they are blackened evenly. Then, drop them into a plastic bag and let them rest. The steam they exude will loosen the charred skins. After 10 minutes or more in the bag, you can peel the charred skin off by hand or with a knife. Discard the stem and seeds, and you have the tastiest roasted peppers ever.
Toss the peppers into a food processor with the garlic and a 1/2 cup of water or stock and some parsley and mulch it up as finely as you can. Add salt to taste. Pour that into a saucepan and cook it for 5-10 minutes. If you want a thick and rustic sauce, use it as is. If you prefer a more refined sauce (as I do) put it through a strainer, use the liquid, and discard the solids.
Step 2: Cooking the Stuffing
Toss your onion in and squeeze the chorizo out of its casing and into the pan. Saute for 5-7 mins on medium, breaking up the chorizo and stirring occasionally. When you're done, you are NOT going to drain this on paper towels. You want all of the spices from your chorizo for flavoring, and that includes the oil from the chorizo. You absolutely want all of that deliciousness.
Combine the chorizo and onion mix with your cooked rice in a bowl. (Or just do it all in the same pan.) Add some parsley and your lemon juice and lemon rind and stir it all up. This is a very lemony recipe, which I think works perfectly with the squid, but you can adjust it down or leave out the rind if you want it to be less lemony.
Rinse your squid thoroughly and start stuffing them by hand. Stuff them no more than 3/4 full and close each squid's open side with a toothpick. Stuffing these small squid can get kind of messy, so rinse your stuffed squid and make them pretty after your done stuffing them all. Drop them on a paper towel or plate and have them all lined up for frying.
Step 3: Frying the Squid
Put a few tablespoons of olive oil (or any oil) in a pan using medium-high heat and plop a batch of them in. You really only need to cook them for 2-3 minutes. Turn them with tongs and cook on both sides. You'll notice the squid will shrink up tightly and become nice and oval shaped. If you've overstuffed them, they could burst, but only one of mine sprung a leak; I erred on the side of under-stuffing them. You can do these in batches and just move the cooked ones to one side of the pan. Remove the finished squids to your serving plate.
For saucing, you can either pour the sauce onto your serving plate before adding the squids (as I did), or you can drizzle or toss the squid with the sauce. Whatever works best for how you want to serve them. You can remove the toothpicks or leave them in if you want the toothpicks to be a hand-hold for people to grab them.
This is a party pleaser of an appetizer, but it's not really that hard to do. Stuffing them is the most labor intensive part, so grab a friend or party guest and have them help you knock it out together.