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Madeira Squid Stew

(Caldeirada de Lulas a Madeirense)

This Portuguese stew from the Madeira Islands is robust, spicy, and wonderfully tender, with just a hint of Portugal's early age of exploration to India, the Far East, and the Americas. Also downright pretty to look at--if you like the look of squid, that is. Serve hot as a meal to 6, with lots of bread, a green salad, and strong red wine.

  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers (red, green, yellow, or any combination), cut in fine strips
  • 2 little hot peppers, chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 fresh tomatoes (or 4-6 canned), peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 2 lbs. squid, cleaned and sliced into 1/4" slices, leaving the tentacles in one piece if they're small enough (go to the squid hyperlink for instructions on cleaning fresh squid--or buy frozen, pre-sliced squid if you're squeamish)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups fish stock
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into a julienne

Garnish: chopped parsley

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onions, garlic, and peppers for about 5 minutes. Blend in the curry powder and ginger and stir for a minute or two. Add the bay leaves, salt, and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce to lowest heat and steam for 5 or more minutes. Add the squid (SEE NOTE BELOW), wine, and stock. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to lowest heat, cover, and gently simmer for 30 minutes. Only by very slow cooking will the squid be so tender. Add the potatoes, keeping the heat at a bare simmer, and cook until the potatoes are fork tender--about 30 more minutes.

When ready to serve, ladle into flat soup plates, garnish with plenty of chopped parsley, and serve with lots of bread.

NOTE: David Snippers advises also, "Prepare the squid for cooking by cleaning and slicing or scoring but reserve it until just ready to serve the stew or soup. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the squid and serve immediately. It will be fully cooked in about five seconds and will be soft and tender beyond expectation." This isn't traditional, but I strongly agree with the results.