Cuttlefish and Bean Stew
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
"Our disputants put me in mind of the cuttlefish, that when he is unable to extricate himself, blackens all the water about him, till he becomes invisible."
Joseph Addison (1712)
I've been making this dish for some time, largely because it's hard to beat. The cuttlefish aren't available much of the year, mostly around May, but they freeze beautifully and I always make sure I buy some specifically for the freezer to enjoy later in the year.
Cuttlefish and Bean Stew (Serves 2 and freezes well)
One small/medium onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 dried red chilli
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp paprika (can be a mix of sweet, smoked or hot, to taste)
60ml red wine
1 ripe tomato, skinned and coarsely chopped
1½ tsp tomato puree
Pinch of saffron strands
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tin of Borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (kidney beans and cannellini beans would also work)
300g cuttlefish, cleaned, skinned and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
Finely chopped red onion and mild green chilli, and deseeded and finely diced tomato for garnish (optional)
Wild garlic, see note
In a deep frying pan or saute pan, heat some olive oil and soften the onions, without colouring.
Add the garlic, dried chilli, bay leaf, rosemary and saffron and fry gently to release the aromas.
Next add the paprika, stir for a few seconds then add the cuttlefish and stir for a minute or so to coat with the herbs and spices.
Once the cuttlefish is coated, add the red wine, the chopped tomato, tomato puree and water and bring to a gentle simmer. Use a spoon to help break down the texture of the chopped tomato.
If the sauce is a little thick add a bit more water. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, cover and simmer very gently for about 45 mins to 1 hour until the cuttlefish cuts with a spoon.
Season to taste, and add the beans to warm through for a further 5-10 mins.
Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and the finely chopped red onion tomato and green chilli if using.
If you’re a big fan of cooking with the seasons you will know that wild garlic’s time of the year coincides closely with that of cuttlefish and some shredded wild garlic added at the end cannot be anything but a winner.