Pasta with Squid Ink, Orange-Braised Fennel and Tentacles

By • January 24, 2011 • 17 Comments



Author Notes: Itching for something to shoot, my photographer-boyfriend convinced me to enter the contest. I cooked and he took the photos. I think we make a pretty good team - and he still loves me with pitch-black teeth.

If you can't find squid ink, it's certainly no crime to use dried squid ink pasta instead. But do try to get your hands on some real ink; it's every bit as alluring as you'd imagine. I bought a small tub from my local fishmonger for $9.99. I only use a tablespoon of the black stuff in this recipe. It was, to my taste, just enough. And all the better: I have some left over for other endeavors.
Rochelle Bilow

Serves 4-6

Braised Fennel

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • zest of 1 orange, cut into 1/2" strips
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the fennel in half, then remove the core. Slice the remaining part into 1/4" thick pieces. It will fall apart a bit, and that's okay. Place the fennel in a deep baking dish or hotel pan.
  2. Bruise the orange zest with the back of a knife, and add it to a hotel pan/baking dish, along with the black peppercorns and chicken stock. We're looking for the stock to come about 3/4 of the way up the fennel. If you have a very large pan, you might need more stock; if your pan is small, you might need less.
  3. Cover loosely with foil and place in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, turning the fennel over halfway through. They are done when, pierced with a knife, they release the blade without any give.
  4. Remove the fennel and keep covered with foil. Strain the orange and pepper out of the stock, discarding the pieces. Reserve the stock.

Pasta with Squid Ink

  • 1 medium-sized white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon Pernod, or other anise-flavored spirit
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, reserved from fennel
  • 1 tablespoon squid or cuttlefish ink
  • zest of 1/2 orange, grated finely
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped roughtly
  • 1 pound bucatini
  • splash olive oil
  • 1/2 pound squid tentacles, cleaned
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup easily melting blue cheese (I used St. Agur)
  1. In a deep, wide pan, gently cook the onions and garlic in the oil over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant. Add the Pernod and stir until almost evaporated. Add the chicken stock and let reduce to 1/3-1/4 cup. If the liquid is reduced sufficiently and you're not ready to finish it, lower the heat and keep it warm.
  2. Meanwhile, boil a pot of salted water. Cook the pasta to your preference - I prefer almost al dente, as I find it cooks a bit more once tossed with the sauce. Drain the pasta and toss with a splash of olive oil, to keep it from sticking.
  3. Season the squid tentacles with salt and pepper, then saute them in the neutral oil in a saute pan over high heat. Cook them just until they become pert and purple, then remove from the pan, cover and set aside.
  4. Finish the sauce: add the squid ink and blue cheese (either crumbled or pulled apart, depending on consistency), and stir to combine. Add the pasta, fennel, parsley and orange zest, reserving a bit of parsley and zest to finish each plate. Stir to combine well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve topped off with a few extra-curly squid.
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Tags: rich, umami

Comments (17) Questions (0)

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Phoenix

over 3 years ago Phoenix Helix

How strange to see people who get offended by someone else's recipe. I don't like seafood, but I can see that care & creativity went into this dish. Don't let the naysayers get you down!

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Thank you for your positive encouragement! One of the things I like best about food52 is the inspiring, nurturing environment. You're a bright spot in my day!

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over 3 years ago Palate818

Blue cheese? With squid? Okay. Why not butter, cream or something that tempers the squid ink instead of erasing the taste with a strong cheese? Also, why aren't the bodies of the squid used? It seems a bit wastefull to only use the tentacles and throw the rest of the squid out.

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Hi Palate818,

I used blue cheese because I thought it would be a good match with the orange and fennel - you're certainly encouraged to mix up the ingredients if you make this on your own.

Where I buy seafood, I was able to buy just the tentacles. If that's not an option for you, I certainly suggest using the body as well; no sense in wasting perfectly good squid.

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over 3 years ago Palate818

What about focusing on something that compliments the squid ink, which I assume is supposed to be the star.

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Yes, Palate818, perhaps the blue cheese was too strong. But no recipe - at least no recipe of mine - is set in stone! You are more than encouraged to swap it out for cream or butter.

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over 3 years ago bolt1946

Other than the obvious professional photos, the execution is quite ugly. If your going to use squid ink in pasta, make it yourself, incorporate it into the dough. that way it wont look all slimy, also blue cheese and squid? i think your bargaining with the devil there.

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

I didn't incorporate it into the dough, simply because I wanted to make a sauce out of it! :o)

I like the combination of flavors here, but if you make this for yourself, you can simply leave it out.

A brief refresher of the site rules might do you well - you're treading dangerously, I think. I'd hate for you to end up with a year's supply of durian.

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over 3 years ago bolt1946

Obviously rules werent ment to be followed, with cheese and fish right? ps i love durian

Chris_in_oslo

over 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

Goodness!! I was surprised by the blue cheese too, but I find that the dishes that include some things that I'd do myself (squid, fennel, Pernod) plus some things that I wouldn't have done are the ones that might have something to teach me. And I LOVE sauces with squid ink, much more than I love squid ink pasta.

Avatar-460-white

over 3 years ago Food52

This is from your friendly editors at Food52.

We agree that food rules were made to be broken, but our Contest Rules
and Terms of Agreement are there for a reason -- we all learn more and
have more fun that way.

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over 3 years ago Mr P

This looks beautiful and the intro adds a nice touch.

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Thank you, Mr. P!

Chris_in_oslo

over 3 years ago Greenstuff

Chris is a trusted source on General Cooking

I was hoping for a recipe something like this one! The blue cheese is a surprise, though. Is there a story behind how you chose to include it?

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Thank you, Greenstuff! I went with the blue cheese because I love how it tastes with both orange and fennel - perhaps I took too much of a gamble, but I did eat it and love it. I think that when it melts, it gives the sauce a nice, creamy quality that's less harsh than just straight ink. Love your user name!

Lnd_jen

over 3 years ago lastnightsdinner

Wow, this is not for the timid! Love squid ink, and I'm a huge fan of tentacles. Gorgeous dish!

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over 3 years ago Rochelle Bilow

Thank you for your kind words! My Mister really captured the lovely colors in the photos. I like the tentacles best, myself. If you're going to eat squid, it might as well look like squid ... I always say. :o)