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Drunken Calamari

Greeks take Lent before Easter very seriously, therefore, most restaurants alter their menu to adapt to meatless dishes. It's a refreshing experience, to move away from the standard "souvlaki" and lamb "kleftiko", give it a go!

So, when I found myself in Athens for a long weekend in April, my parents took me straight to the port of Rafina, for lunch, which is just 10 minutes away from the airport. 
We got ourselves a seaside spot and ordered some of the good old favourites: spiced sardines, barbecued sundried octopus, courgette croquettes, barbecued mushrooms with olive oil and balsamic (so simple and delicious, it's a revelation!), tomato croquettes and off course halva, sweetened semolina with cinnamon and sultanas in other words.
Oh, and then we met "Odysseus"! 
A whole calamari, stuffed with prawns and chopped veggies, in a red sauce, so light, simple and flavoursome.
Sorry to be a killjoy, but next time your guests announce that they only eat fish, you have no excuse to grimace!

I must admit, I do not like heavy, complex flavours. I prefer it when I can taste the base ingredients in dishes that are more earthy and fresh.
So here is a slightly altered recipe, inspired by "Odysseus".

Drunken Calamari:

- Two fresh whole calamari (ask the fishmonger to take the cartrilige and ink out)
- Two cups of red wine
- One orange, peeled and sliced
- Three-four cloves
- Two-three cloves of garlic,  peeled and thinly sliced
- Two bayleaves
- One stick of cinammon, broken into smaller pieces
- Spring onions
- One cup of rice
- Pinenuts
- Sultanas
- Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper

For the "drunken" marinade:
In a broad, deep bowl combine: the red wine, orange slices, cloves, garlic, bayleaves and cinnamon. Wash and pat dry the two calamari, leave them whole.
Marinade them for a couple of hours or preferably overnight in the lovely "drunken" liquid you've just prepared. 

Get stuffing:
When you are ready to stuff the calamari, half-boil the rice with two cups of water and a generous pinch of salt;  let the water get absorbed during boiling, but not dry out completely.
Once half-cooked, take the rice off the heat and mix in the chopped spring onions, pine nuts and sultanas.
Take the calamari out of the marinade and place it on a baking tray that has been slightly oiled.
Pour the marinade liquid through a fine sieve and keep the gorgeous, red, fragrant nectar aside.
Pour roughly 3/4 of a cup of the strained marinade liquid, into  the rice mixture and toss around until all of the rice is coated with the wine marinade.

Use a spoon to stuff the calamari with the rice mixture, making sure there is enough marinade liquid, to help the rice cook further.
Take two toothpicks and prick the calamari's opening, closed firmly, so that the rice doesn't spill out during baking.
Place both chubby, stuffed calamari on the baking tray and pour the rest of the marinade liquid over them. Salt & pepper, generously.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in  pre-heated oven, around 200C.

Remember, the calamari is already intoxicated, you are up next! x

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