Cuttlefish with Meatballs and Peas

SERVES 6 AS A STARTER

6 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
90ml dry white wine
1 large vine-ripened or beef tomato (about 200g), halved
2 tsp tomato puree
15g slice crustless white bread
1 and a half tbsp milk
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
225g minced chicken
225g minced pork
A little freshly grated nutmeg
6 large shell-on raw prawns
375g cleaned cuttlefish, cut into 2cm-wide strips
150ml Chicken stock or water
100g shelled peas, fresh or frozen
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty fresh bread, to serve

FOR THE PICADA

2 tbsp olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
10g slice crustless white bread
10g toasted blanched almonds
1 small vine-ripened or beef tomato, halved
1 tsp flat-leaf parsley leaves

FOR THE CHICKEN STOCK

Makes approx. 1.75 litres
Bones from a 1.5kg uncooked chicken or
450g chicken wings or drumsticks
1 large carrot, chopped
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2.25 litres water

METHOD

Grate the halved tomatoes for the tomato sauce and the picada, pressing the fleshy, cut face of the tomato against the grater. (As you grate each tomato half, the skin will flatten out and be left behind.) Discard the skin.

For the picada, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic cloves and slice of bread and fry, turning over now and then, until golden brown. Lift out with a slotted spoon and add to the bowl of a mini food processor with the almonds, tomato, parsley and 1 tablespoon cold water. Blend to a paste and set aside.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil, half the garlic and the onion into a saucepan and fry for 10 minutes until soft, sweet and lightly golden. Add the wine, grated tomato and tomato puree and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 6–7 minutes until reduced and thickened.

For the meatballs, tear the bread into a small bowl, sprinkle with the milk and leave until soft. Break up the bread with your fingers and add the remaining chopped garlic, the parsley, minced chicken and pork, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper.

Mix together well and shape into 2.5–3cm balls. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, add the meatballs and fry for 3 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until golden brown. Set aside on a plate. Discard any oil left in the pan. Heat another tablespoon of oil in the pan, add the prawns and fry for 1 minute on each side until just cooked through. Set aside on a plate. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then the cuttlefish and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until it is nicely caramelized and just cooked through. Set aside with the prawns.

Add the tomato sauce to the pan, stir in the picada and simmer for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the stock or water and bring to the boil, stirring. Add the peas, meatballs and cuttlefish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Scatter over the prawns and simmer for 5 minutes until any remaining liquid has reduced and everything has heated through. Serve with crusty fresh bread.

CHICKEN STOCK

Put all the ingredients into a large pan and bring just to the boil, skimming off any scum from the surface as it appears. Leave to simmer very gently for 2 hours – it is important not to let it boil as this will force the fat from even the leanest chicken and make the stock cloudy. Strain the stock through a sieve and leave to simmer a little longer to concentrate in flavour if necessary. Use or store as required.

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