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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
- 1 bulb fennel
- zest of 1 orange, cut into 1/2" strips
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 1/4 cup easily melting blue cheese (I used St. Agur)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Seafood Pasta