Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slow-Cooked Octopus in Tomato Sauce

"Slow-cooked" and "Tuesday-night dinner" are two mutually incompatible concepts when you're a working woman. Incompatible unless your hard-working husband stays home and writes his articles while waiting for the octopus to boil/steam tender.

This octopus dish is another in Gabriel's repertoire of Greek cuisine. You'll find this particularly in spring when the octopi come close to the surface of the coastal Ionian sea and are easy to catch. But for us, frozen is just fine (the toughest octopus Gabriel ever cooked was a pricey freshly-caught one).

Here's how he does it:

2 small or 1 large octopus
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Greek oregano
1-15oz cans of good San Marzano tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste

First clean the octopus, taking out the beak (pointy thing at the bottom where all the tentacles connect) and the eyes (eeeew!, no wonder I never make this myself!). Other than the beak and eyes, leave the octopus whole and place in a large pot with about 1/2 inch of water at the bottom. Cover the pot tightly and boil/steam the octopus for 1 hour, or until tender. This prospect sounds pretty risky to me since it seems easy for the water steam away and the octopus to burn, but this is what Gabriel does regularly, so I guess if you keep watching it, you'll be ok. Music to boil octopus by: Kitchen Man by Bessie Smith.

Once the octopus is almost done, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the minced onion. Cook stirring regularly until it's browned, then add the bay, oregano and tomatoes. Heat to a simmer, breaking up any larger pieces of tomato. Cut the octopus into about 1-2 inch pieces and add to the pan. Add the white wine, return to a simmer and cook 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is like a thick tomato sauce. Serve over white rice. Then kiss your kitchen man, 'cause he's your sweetie.


Blogger Tracie P. said...

they make that here in napoli but with black olives too. i'm not a huge fan of octopus, but i will eat a little, just to show that i'm not a...puss.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

I bet it's absolutely delicious but I wouldn't want to prepare it either!!!

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that looks and sounds wonderful. gabriel clearly knows the rule of thumb for octopus or squid: cook it a minute or cook it an hour, but nothing in between.

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love octopus! I'm gonna try that recipe. Thanks.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never had octopus in anything other than asian-style dishes before, but I think I'll definetely have to try this! It looks wonderful!

10:35 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Tracie, Are people culinarily daring down in Naples? Here, you find a lot of people afraid of, say organ meats, strange sea creatures and the like.

Hi Beenzzz, it's great to have a guy cook for you once in a while.

Hi Scott, Yeah. I had thought the rule was 2 minutes or 2 hours but evidently I was wrong.

Hi Moon, If you make this let me know (good or bad) how it turns out.

Hi Ellie, What sort of Asian preparations are there for octopus?

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous! If only my boyfriend weren't a 9-5er like me too (and would dare to eat or cook octopus, and if I could find that in NYC, maybe Chinatown. So your post is like a breath of fantasy). And the only octopus I've had was prepared Asian as well--stir-fried Chinese dishes, deep-fried, and in Korean pancakes.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Tracie P. said...

there's a pasta sauce called "soffrito," yes, like the flavor base, but it's made with cow hearts and other things that i just didn't have the stomach to have elaborated. these things, though, are more old school and not so popular with the new generations. and anything from the sea that doesn't eat you first is acceptable.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Susan a GTG in Milan is being organized for Thursday Feb 8th....interested?

1:07 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Cathy, All these Asian octopus dishes! I'm totally uninitiated. Where do I start?

Hi Tracie, So you all down there ARE more adventurous. Up here, Gabriel served raw oysters on the half-shell and our guests politely either turned them down or, with a more-than-stiff upped lip, gulped to get it over with.

Hi Ms., Sure! Where is it?

2:42 PM  
Anonymous July said...

I did not expect, that the octopus can be eaten...such an interesting recipe,but I am afraid of the octopus)

1:02 PM  
Blogger paulie said...

i made this dish today AND IT was great.
my persoal taste will go with less wine next time,but it was really good.

1:00 AM  

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