This stew is great simply mopped up with bread, or served with new potatoes that you can crush with your fork to scoop up the sauce.
- 1 large cuttlefish (around 1kg/2lb 4oz), or 1kg/2lb 4oz squid
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 200ml/7fl oz white wine
- 400g/14oz tomatoes, skinned and chopped (ideally fresh, but alternatively tinned tomatoes)
- large thyme sprig
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- few basil leaves
First prepare the cuttlefish (or squid – they are done pretty much in the same way). If whole, and uncleaned, do this in the sink as the black ink can make the whole process very messy.
Cut or pull away the tentacles from the body, cutting away the beak which will be in the centre of the tentacles. Carefully remove the entrails and the ink sac from the main body. Pull out the cuttlebone (or squid quill), then rinse the cuttlefish or squid thoroughly, pulling off any membranes. Cut into fairly thick slices and dry as thoroughly as possible.
Heat the olive oil in a large casserole or saucepan over a medium–high heat. Add the cuttlefish or squid, and cook quickly for 2–3 minutes, or until lightly coloured. Turn down the heat and then add the onion. Continue to cook, stirring regularly for 10 minutes, or until the onion has softened.
Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil. Allow to bubble furiously for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, herbs and fennel seed. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer gently for around an hour and a half, until the cuttlefish or squid is tender.
Remove the lid and simmer uncovered for a further few minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Serve garnished with basil leaves.
If you can get cuttlefish from your fishmonger you can ask them to clean it, or buy it frozen and cleaned. If not, instructions are below or you can use squid.