Stéphane’s Calamari in Red Sauce

When I first met Stéphane, it was April of 2014. My daughter and I visited him for an action-packed four days in southwestern France.

If you’re not familiar with Stéphane Gabart, he is the author of My French Heaven, the beautiful blog that emanates his love for all things food, wine, and France. You immediately grasp his passion and joie de vivre through his stunning photography.

His business, which he has secretly told me is more fun than work, is called Your French Heaven, because one can basically customize a visit. In our case, my daughter and I went mostly, not surprisingly, for the food experience.

We visited a different farmers’ market every day, so that he could cook fabulous meals for us. Can you imagine! Four farmers’ markets in close proximity to your home?!! Not to mention bakeries and patisseries!

Because my daughter is a pescatarian, we ate a lot of seafood, which was wonderful!

Of course Stéphane also had the perfect wines, champagnes, Lillet, and Sauternes.

And bread and cheese, of course.

I’d include photos of the countryside we visited, along with castles, villages, fortresses, vineyards, and even a brocante, because we did do much more than eat, but I need to keep this post about Stéphane and the calamari he prepared one evening for my daughter and I. These are photos from that visit. I’ve never had calamari quite like it.

It’s calamari rings, sautéed, flambéed, then cooked in a red sauce until the sauce is deep and rich. The sunshine beaming down on the calamari just make them glow!

Here’s the recipe, as generously emailed to me by Stéphane.

Calamari Rings in Red Sauce
printable recipe below

Sear bacon, shallots and onions in a cast iron pot.

In another skillet, sauté the calamari in olive oil. Flambé with cognac.

You then dump your seafood in the pot and add your bouquet garni. Add 125g of tomato paste for each pound of fish.

Darken the sauce on medium heat and wet it as you go along with a big glass of white wine.

When your sauce is dark enough, you add fish stock to level. Let the whole thing boil on low heat for a good 2 hours, adding liquid as needed.

When the sauce has reduced enough, add some garlic, a pinch of paprika and some cayenne pepper.

Let it all simmer very slowly for about 15 minutes and adjust your seasoning.

Then thicken your sauce with a bit of white roux.

And voila!

I made this calamari dish for Christmas eve, served with white rice.

It was exquisite.

Merci, mon ami!



About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet January 23, 2018 at 6:05 AM - Reply

    Wonderful! And I love Stephane’s blog too :)

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 6:38 AM - Reply

      His blog is so wonderful – especially when he keeps it up!

  2. Nadia January 23, 2018 at 6:14 AM - Reply

    OMG! That is my kind of dinner.

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 6:39 AM - Reply

      This recipe was so new to me – i’d only had grilled calamari before then!

  3. pentyofamelie January 23, 2018 at 6:42 AM - Reply

    Bonjour, All Recipes I got to read from your blog are Amazing! I just had my (poor) lunch because of diet:), and while looking at pictures, I’m getting hungry ;-) … everything here sounds so Yummy! Merci beaucoup for sharing your délicieuses recettes.

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 6:46 AM - Reply

      Merci Amelie! Ah diets. Horrible.

  4. Debbie Spivey January 23, 2018 at 6:47 AM - Reply

    I follow Stephane’s blog also. What a great trip with wonderful food. Life is all about spending time with others and eating! Thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 6:55 AM - Reply

      Well said. I need to bug him again about adding a post or two!

  5. January 23, 2018 at 7:00 AM - Reply

    Such a fun trip to take with your daughter – memories I’m sure you will always remember! Wish I could say I liked calamari as they sure do look good – onion rings maybe :) Now those lobsters…

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 7:03 AM - Reply

      I know – the lobsters! Since I can’t eat fresh seafood where I live, it was a dream to be limited to my daughter’s pescatarian diet! And the seafood in season there was so beautiful.

  6. Angela@grapegravy​ January 23, 2018 at 7:47 AM - Reply

    Wow! What a wonderful experience! I have never had calamari like that before it looks delicious. Beautiful pictures!

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 8:13 AM - Reply

      Thank you. I know, I”be only had quickly grilled calamari. Until then I had no idea that you could slow cook them!

  7. sugarlovespices January 23, 2018 at 8:20 AM - Reply

    I am a pescatarian like your daughter, I would have been in heaven as well. These calamari rings sound amazingly tasty. Love the recipe!

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 8:25 AM - Reply

      I would certainly be most always a pescatarian, except that I live in Oklahoma! No fresh seafood here, so I in hale it when we vacation!

  8. Jodi January 23, 2018 at 10:25 AM - Reply

    sooo envious of your visit with Stephane!!! :)

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 10:41 AM - Reply

      I KNOW! I need another trip!!!

  9. anotherfoodieblogger January 23, 2018 at 10:54 AM - Reply

    What fun memories, and great photographs! And I love this recipe, my mouth is watering. Sure miss Stéphane’s lovely posts.

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 10:55 AM - Reply

      I know! I’m going to start bugging him again!

  10. Fourth Generation Farmgirl January 23, 2018 at 11:01 AM - Reply

    Looks wonderful!

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 3:02 PM - Reply

      That you. It was a revelation!

  11. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso January 23, 2018 at 11:44 AM - Reply

    Such a great trip and lovely looking dish. I need to get some calamari soon! :)

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 12:00 PM - Reply

      I’d only had quick grilled calamari up to that point. Didn’t even know they could be stewed!

      • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso January 23, 2018 at 2:32 PM

        Live and learn! :)

      • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 2:57 PM

        Every day!

  12. My Little Italian Kitchen January 23, 2018 at 4:13 PM - Reply

    My mouth is watering! I love this post and the photos. What a great shellfish feast and I love your calamari recipe. I want to buy them now and do the same!

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 4:21 PM - Reply

      Do it! And thank you.

  13. heather (delicious not gorgeous) January 23, 2018 at 4:46 PM - Reply

    sounds like such a delicious trip!!! i’ve never cooked with calamari, but i love eating it when i go out, so i think it’s time to experiment with it (:

    • chef mimi January 23, 2018 at 5:12 PM - Reply

      Definitely! It’s so yummy and versatile!

  14. Tandy | Lavender and Lime January 23, 2018 at 11:06 PM - Reply

    What an amazing experience you must have had. I am envious of all the food markets in Europe. And this dish looks so scrummy. Something I am sure I would enjoy for sure :)

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 7:37 AM - Reply

      Can you imagine having (at least) four different markets so close?!! Crazy wonderful. I’ve visited Stéphane three times now, and they’re all been some of the best travel and food experiences!

  15. Ron January 24, 2018 at 3:37 AM - Reply

    What a wonderful trip it must have been and what a great recipe. I love the slow and low long cook. The calamari must have melted in your mouth. A “must try” in my book.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 7:35 AM - Reply

      It was a revelation when I first had it! I never knew that calamari could be “stewed.”

  16. grumpytyke January 24, 2018 at 6:32 AM - Reply

    I cannot remember whether it was your blog which introduced me to Stephane’s or ‘My French Heaven’ which introduced me to yours but I remember Stephane’s post about your visit. I mentioned one of his ‘simple’ recipes, also seafood, in a post recently. It still rates as one of the top seafood dishes for me.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      His food in wonderful. He doesn’t post any more, and many of us fans are sad about that. Guess I’ll just have to visit him again!

  17. Frank Fariello January 24, 2018 at 7:33 AM - Reply

    Now doesn’t this looks good. People don’t always realize how well red wine pairs with seafood, but it can be delicious!

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 7:57 AM - Reply

      I don’t think I’d want too “big” of a red with this!

  18. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons January 24, 2018 at 8:57 AM - Reply

    What a dream holiday, how lucky you are to share those memories with your daughter. I like the long slow cooking of the calamari, I have tried to do a shorter one in a red sauce but the calamari was very tough. I think the trick is either fast (like fried or grilled) or a longer braise. Thank you for introducing me to his blog.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 9:01 AM - Reply

      Stephane told me quick cooking or at least 2 hours. It is such a wonderful dish. He’s really slowed down on posting, but I still look at his blog!

      • Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons January 24, 2018 at 9:04 AM

        I gave up on the slow cooking but will give this one a try, it looks fabulous. I would have never thought to let it go for 2 hours.

  19. kitchenriffs January 24, 2018 at 10:54 AM - Reply

    Sounds like a terrific trip. Love the photos! And really LOVE this recipe. So interesting — I’ve never had anything like this. Thanks.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 11:58 AM - Reply

      I never have either, and I eat calamari as much as possible when we travel!

  20. Linda Duffin January 24, 2018 at 10:55 AM - Reply

    That sounds so good, love Stephane’s dishes. I’m very envious that you’ve been to stay with him, it’s something I’d really enjoy. Such a lovely and talented man.

    • chef mimi January 25, 2018 at 9:44 AM - Reply

      You should go! You’re so close! Did you know i’ve been 3 times?!!

      • Linda Duffin January 25, 2018 at 1:17 PM

        I’m so tempted. And I am thrice jealous. :)

  21. Conor Bofin January 24, 2018 at 12:01 PM - Reply

    Seeing those shots of Libourne and Stephane cooking brings me back to our trips over. He has such an engaging style and relaxed manner in the kitchen. A joy to spend time in his company.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 4:58 PM - Reply

      I’m lucky to call him a friend. I wish I was closer to him like you!

      • Conor Bofin January 28, 2018 at 4:35 AM

        We hope to get over again in July. If we do, it’s my turn to cook, I believe. Always difficult as he is so expert and relaxed, while I stress and learn as I go.

      • chef mimi January 28, 2018 at 6:57 AM

        I don’t stress, but I’m easily distracted, and drink too much when I’m having so much fun!!!

      • Conor Bofin January 28, 2018 at 6:58 AM

        A much better plan Mimi!

  22. Loretta January 24, 2018 at 3:58 PM - Reply

    What a wonderful post! There’s nothing quite like southern France is there? The food and wines are just amazing! The calamari? Wow! The flavors, yummy! What a wonderful trip this had to have been for you and your daughter. Like her, I’d live on pescatarian meals, but then there’s another person in this house who would miss meat every so often :) That’s a beautiful picture of you and your daughter.

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 4:57 PM - Reply

      Thank you Loretta. I’ve actually never met a part of France I haven’t liked, but I’ve yet to see the northwest corner. On my list!

  23. Abbe@This is How I Cook January 24, 2018 at 4:06 PM - Reply

    I’m not sure what sounds better-the trip or the calamari! What a wonderful thing to do together. Can’t wait to try this!

    • chef mimi January 24, 2018 at 4:56 PM - Reply

      Well, if I had to pick – the trip!

  24. dishinwithdidi January 24, 2018 at 6:33 PM - Reply

    Your entire trip with your daughter looks and sounds amazing Mimi! I love calamari and this looks delicious!

    • chef mimi January 25, 2018 at 9:42 AM - Reply

      It was an incredible experience overall, just 100% wonderful!

  25. Gerlinde January 24, 2018 at 11:30 PM - Reply

    What a wonderful trip with great food and wine.

    • chef mimi January 25, 2018 at 9:39 AM - Reply

      It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  26. StefanGourmet January 25, 2018 at 12:44 AM - Reply

    Stéphane is the greatest. Love this recipe and recognize his writing style. This sauce would also be great with pasta, and then I would probably Italianify it a little (no fish stock, no bouquet garni, no roux, fresh parsley at the end).

    • StefanGourmet January 25, 2018 at 12:51 AM - Reply

      PS in Italy it’s called calamari in umido and can also include potatoes and peas.

      • chef mimi January 25, 2018 at 9:40 AM

        Interesting. I personally don’t think it needs either!

  27. Susan (@savoringtime) January 25, 2018 at 8:58 AM - Reply

    There is a restaurant we enjoy that serves calamari in marinara sauce that I love and have always wanted to replicate it at home but now I think I’ll try this recipe first! It sounds so wonderful and what a trip! I can only imagine the food you must have eaten. Oh, La, La!

    • chef mimi January 25, 2018 at 9:40 AM - Reply

      Oh la la is right! It was an incredible experience! This calamari dish is exquisite!

  28. Marie January 25, 2018 at 10:46 AM - Reply

    Lovely photos! It looks like you and your daughter had a lot of fun. So much delicious food too! I particularly love the shot of the calamari rings being flambéed. My goodness, it looks so flavourful!

    • chef mimi January 26, 2018 at 5:30 PM - Reply

      Oh boy did we have fun! And we’ve never eaten better! (And I didn’t have to wash dishes!)

  29. Jack & Barbra Donachy January 26, 2018 at 1:59 PM - Reply

    Wonderful post! It’s been so long since we’ve had calamari!

    • chef mimi January 26, 2018 at 2:46 PM - Reply

      At least you get beautiful salmon!

  30. David January 26, 2018 at 5:49 PM - Reply

    OMG,Mimi – these look absolutely fantastic and I bet they are addictive! I can feel the heat now!

    • chef mimi January 26, 2018 at 8:56 PM - Reply

      Funny! Yes, definitely addictive.

  31. Jeff the Chef January 29, 2018 at 11:28 PM - Reply

    Well, do you take the most amazing vacations. And thank you for pointing out Stephane’s website.

    • chef mimi January 30, 2018 at 6:46 AM - Reply


  32. Nancy Bryant February 5, 2018 at 1:21 PM - Reply

    I’ve always loved fried calamari and all sorts of seafood recipe. This Calamari red sauce is a must-try. Looks zesty and flavorful!

    • chef mimi February 5, 2018 at 1:31 PM - Reply

      It’s luxurious!

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