Saturday mornings, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…
No alarm? Love.
Lazy lie-in? Love a bit more.
Time to make a nice breakfast? Love a lot more.
Sitting pj clad on the sofa eating said breakfast in front of ‘Saturday Kitchen’? Love big time.
So in short then, Saturday mornings, I salute you. I was recently lucky enough to be gifted an afternoon at the studios of ‘Saturday Kitchen’ in Clapham. I had no idea what to expect but it was an absolutely brilliant experience!
A cooking masterclass where we shown how to make tapas delicious enough to consider trading your first-born for was first up and then it was off for a tour of the studios themselves, a crack at the omelette challenge – much more intimidating than it looks on the tv! – and a wine tasting with the brilliantly affable Andy Clarke who paired each one with a suitable accompanying food suggestion. FYI, try and be on the group that does the omelette challenge after the wine tasting, not that it helped me any with my effort which was applaudably dreadful!
Along with a small group of fellow food enthusiasts, we also got to meet and chat with some of the fantastic ‘Saturday Kitchen’ and Cactus Studios’ team; super friendly and genuine, nothing was too much trouble and no question was left unanswered as we were given a glimpse into the incredibly busy, professional & downright fascinating world of live tv.
Each tour gives you the opportunity to watch a different chef in action and I really wanted to see someone I’d never had the chance to watch before. The Salt Yard Group began in 2005 with their beautiful Fitzrovia location – home to the best salt cod brandade I’ve ever had – and now boast 4 restaurants, all specialising in Spanish & Italian small plates, charcuterie & cheese. Ben Tish, who is Executive Chef and a lovely friendly chap, gave us a masterclass, talking us through the recipes as he made them; goats cheese stuffed courgette flowers, deep fried in a light & crispy tempura batter & drizzled with sweet, golden honey and chorizo stuffed baby squid with aioli, crispy potato slices, peas, capers & a buttery sage sauce and it’s this one that we’re going to look at today.
Some of the best food in the world is that which looks impressively complicated but is actually reassuringly simple and uses a few quality ingredients that are then cooked in a respectful manner. Foams and drizzles and veloutes are all fine and I’m as big a fan of fine feasting as the next greedy gobbler but sometimes you want to be able to see and taste the flavours of what’s on your plate with a bang rather than a whisper.
If you’re lucky enough to have a fishmonger near you, then I guarantee you’ll find the staff who work there to be some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable you’ll have met. In Angel we’re lucky enough to have Moxon’s near Camden Passage who were absolute stars when we went in to get our squid and our chorizo, cleaning & prepping everything for us and chatting about what we were going to do with them. It’s so important to try and support smaller, local businesses; these are the guys who know their stuff and love their jobs and want to share their passion with you so Google where you live today, find an independent shop, go in and ask for a recommendation of what’s great and in season and what you can do with it; they’re the experts so take advantage of what you have on your doorstep.
I absolutely loved trying to recreate this dish at home; the flavours are outstanding and it’s lovely to have something simple but inspiring up your sleeve for when hungry visitors come-a-calling. I think we all know that anything with chorizo is a winner and that smoky spiciness paired with the freshness of the squid, the richness of the buttery sauce and the lusciousness of the aioli is an outstanding combination to have on your plate.
Chorizo Stuffed Squid with Peas, Capers & Aioli
(adapted from a Ben Tish/Salt Yard recipe)
- 1 medium or large free-range egg yolk
- 1 small tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ garlic clove, very finely chopped
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar, plus extra to taste
- 100ml vegetable oil
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- lemon juice, to taste
Chorizo stuffed squid
- 4 squid, cleaned and with the tentacles removed (your fishmonger will be able to do this for you)
- 2 cooking chorizo sausages, peeled from their skins and chopped finely
- 8 new potatoes, scrubbed clean and cut into 1cm slices
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 25g unsalted butter
- 8 sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 25g fresh peas, podded
- 12g miniature pickled capers
- ½ lemon, zest only
- sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Place the yolk in a mixing bowl along with the mustard, garlic and vinegar.
- Begin whisking with a balloon whisk and slowly add the oils to emulsify with the yolk; as the oils incorporate into the yolk, you can speed up the addition of them.
- When all the oil has been added, season with salt & pepper, add some lemon juice, taste, then set aside.
Chorizo stuffed squid
- If your fishmonger has not done so already:
- Pull the tentacles away from the body of each squid and check the centre of the them for the hard beak, which can be discarded; keep the tentacles themselves to one side.
- Feel inside the body for the quill of each squid (it resembles a shard of plastic) – pull it out of the squid and discard.
- Rinse inside the body in cold water and pull the ears (wing-like flaps) from the body; pull the purplish skin from the ears and body to leave only the white meat.
- Discard the guts of the squid or, if desired, retain the ink sack to use in seafood pasta or risotto.
- Knead the chorizo sausages in a bowl together using your hands to form a rough paste.
- Take a piece of chorizo and form it into a shape to fill the cavity of one of the squid.
- Fill each squid to about two-thirds full and press it down then secure each squid tube with a cocktail stick and place to one side until ready to cook.
- Cook the potatoes in a pan of salted water until tender but not too soft and drain well.
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add a glug of olive oil, the crushed garlic and your potatoes then season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook over a moderate heat tossing occasionally to evenly crisp and caramelise the potatoes.
- Take another non-stick pan and place over a moderate heat.
- Season the squid pockets with salt & pepper, add a glug of oil to the pan and then add the squid.
- Cook for two minutes on each side, rotating as they caramelise and turn golden brown.
- When the squid are browned all over, add the tentacles (if using), the butter and sage and, when the butter starts to foam, spoon it over the squid.
- Ensure the chorizo is cooked inside; the filling will be firm to the touch when cooked.
- Add the peas, capers and lemon zest then remove the pan from the heat.
- When the potatoes are ready, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen roll to drain.
- To serve, divide the potatoes between serving plates along with the squid, the buttery pan juices, peas, capers and zest and serve with a generous dollop of aioli.
There’s a lot to love about this dish apart from the genuine lick-the-plate-clean deliciousness of it; the squid is light and the chorizo flavours work well with it. Your plate isn’t overloaded or fussy and baby new potatoes & peas in season are super sweet & lovely. Some crusty bread to soak up the juices and a glass of cold crisp wine would finish it off nicely – it’s a pretty close to perfect dish to whip up for people as you start to enjoy the longer, lighter evenings; you might not be in Spain but hey, at least your plate & stomach will feel like they are.