Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Captain von Trapp!


The brilliant actor Christopher Plummer, quite possibly North America's greatest, was born on December 13, 1929 in Toronto, Canada. And while he dislikes his classic role in The Sound of Music, finding him boring and uninteresting, he's just plain wrong.

When asked his favorite smell, he was just plain right when he replied, "Garlic." Plummer's autobiography lists several positive garlic memories, including noshing on calamari simmering in garlic while drinking "glass after glass" of Chichon in Segovia. (Chichon is an anisette-style liqueur).

I adapted this recipe for traditional gambas al ajillo by replacing the shrimp with calamari and the sherry with anisette for a subtle licorice flavor. (If you'd prefer, stick with sherry and enjoy "glass after glass" of anisette separately.)

Calamari al Ajillo

1 lb calamari, sliced into thin rings
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2-3 oz of dry sherry (or replace with anisette or Pernod)
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
3 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon for juice
1 Baguette

In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they begin to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic!

Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, dry sherry or anisette, and paprika. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the calamari are cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer calamari with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread to soak up the sauce.

Guten Appetit and Buen Provecho!

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