Dalla Cucina di Laura
"If your mother cooks Italian food, why should you go to a restaurant?" - Martin Scorsese
I remember the first time I saw this on my Sicilian grandmother's dinner table. I was very young, and quite intrigued by the unusual, new sight on my plate. I cautiously took my first bite and was surprised by how much I enjoyed all the flavors. Octopus is still a favorite of mine to this day. I've ordered it numerous times, in a myriad of ways throughout Italy, Sicily, Greece and the States.
Whether boiled, braised, baked, marinated, grilled, seared or charred.. step one is to tenderize.
This recipe reveals one guaranteed way to create a tender, tasty dish that your foodie friends will praise you for.
Italian cuisine is born of humble roots, fresh ingredients, traditional flavors and love.
This is for all of you, who love food as much as the Italians do.
"First we eat, then we do everything else." - M.F.K. Fisher
Ingredients for the Octopus:
3 lbs of frozen octopus (freezing helps tenderize)
3 quarts of 100% Spring water
1 cup of red wine
4-5 wine corks (real cork, not plastic. An enzyme in cork helps tenderize.)
4 cloves of organic garlic, whole and peeled
3-4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons of chopped dried Pepperoncini (crushed red pepper flakes)
1/4 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon organic dried oregano (more to taste)
fresh organic Italian flat leaf parsley (garnish)
fresh cracked black pepper to taste (or 20 whole peppercorns in water)
3 organic lemons
Imported extra virgin olive oil
**Step one is properly cleaning and prepping. This video explains exactly how:**
Sometimes it is cleaned for you. If not, you will need to remove the beak, ink and eyes.
Defrost frozen octopus and keep in fridge overnight.
Remove from fridge, and rinse before prepping (video above).
1. Once cleaning and prep is complete. Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of Spring water, 1 cup of red wine, 3-4 bay leaves, 2 tsp of dried crushed red pepper, 4-5 wine corks, 1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt,
2 peeled garlic cloves, 2 chopped shallots, and bring all ingredients to a boil.
3. Blanch tentacles in boiling water three times, for 10 seconds each time. (see video)
4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
Note* Octopus needs to be braised slowly. On average, a simmer of 30 minutes per pound is suggested. That depends on the pot and the heat. I found this 3 lb gem to be perfectly tender in 60 minutes sharp. Poke with a skewer or fork to test.
5. Remove from pot and place in large bowl or cookie sheet to cool.
6. In a separate bowl combine olive oil, 2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic, pinch of salt and dried oregano. Whisk and let sit.
7. Once octopus is cooled, gently massage the dark, gelatinous skin off each tentacle
(or leave on for a crispy charred effect when grilling.)
8. Slice tentacles from head and brush with olive oil/garlic/oregano mixture.
9. Over medium-high heat you can pan sear, broil or grill for 2-3 minutes per side. Once browned, remove and plate.
10. Drizzle olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, and fresh parsley.
11. Serve as an appetizer over greens, in a seafood salad with citrus vinaigrette , or as an entrée with potatoes and arugala.
I made a Sicilian orange butter sauce for dipping which was spicy, sweet and creamy.
Sicilian Orange Beurre Blanc - makes 1 1/2 cups- cut recipe in half for 2-3 lb octopus.
* Octopus Serves 4 as an appetizer (two tentacles per person).
Buon Appetito Tutti!