Tomato & Red Wine Braised Octopus over Linguini

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

It’s been a while since we had octopus. In fact, we haven’t had octopus since my sous vide disaster with it last June. I still haven’t figured out that disaster to attempt it again. Instead, I have been having way too much fun making homemade pasta. Thanks, John & Stefan. I had forgotten how good fresh made pasta is. This is the third batch of pasta in the 3 weeks. The star of this story, however, is the octopus.

Do you like octopus, that 8 legged cephalopod and denizen of the deep that creeps people out? It’s OK if you don’t but Baby Lady & I love octopus. We like baby octopus grilled and tossed atop greens and veggies in a nice salad with a lemon vinaigrette. We like it in sushi, especially spicy jalapeño rolls that we get at Sushi Sake. We like the larger legs grilled and served as a main course. We just like octopus and there are a myriad of things to do with it.

Despite it’s popularity along the Mediterranean, Japan, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, octopus is not a favored meat in the US. Given our national finickiness and squeamishness about what we eat, this is no surprise. It’s a shame, too, because octopus is a wonderful protein with great health benefits. Nevertheless, you can find octopus if you simply look for it and if you haven’t ever tried it, you should. It’s available at most Asian markets, frozen, typically in sizes between baby octopus to small octopus weighing 1 – 1.5 lbs. You can also find it at many fish markets and if they don’t carry it they can order it. You can also find it readily available online. You see, most octopus is cleaned and frozen because it spoils quickly. Also, like its cousin the squid, freezing octopus has no negative effects. To the contrary, freezing octopus helps to tenderize it. So don’t hesitate to buy frozen octopus online if you can’t find it available locally. Because of its considerable shrinkage during cooking, a 3 lb. octopus is about the right size for 4 people.

The problem with octopus is cooking it. Cooked incorrectly, octopus is incredibly chewy, like rubber. Some people will tell you to beat the octopus against your sink or with a rolling pin or some other blunt implement of destruction to tenderize it and then grill it quickly. This will provide you a chewy yet tender octopus. Of course, if you cook it a tad too long, you get rubberized octopus that will make a great chew toy for your dog. The more preferred and safer way to prepare octopus is to slowly cook it. As with any tough meat, slow cooking the octopus tenderizes the meat. In addition, however, it concentrates the flavor of the octopus providing a delightful flavor sensation. There are also multiple slow cooking techniques. Some techniques call for marinating it overnight in an olive oil, herb & lemon marinade and then slowly roasting it for 1 to 1-1/2 hour and finishing it on a hot grill to crisp the skin. Others suggest putting the octopus in water to cover and cooking it until it’s tender, roughly about an hour depending upon the size of the octopus. Then, there is this technique of braising the octopus. While it is difficult to overcook octopus, it can be done yielding you a dry flavorless, tough piece of meat reminiscent of an eraser. Hopefully, this technique will pique your interest to try octopus if you never have tried it. If you have tried it, we hope you give our recipe a try. It’s pretty darn tasty if I do say so myself. :)

Ingredients

  • 1 octopus, 3.5 lbs., tentacles only, par cooked and chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 10 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, 1/2 inch dice
  • 1-1/2 cup dry Red Wine
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 bundle fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 lb. basic pasta dough (recipe found here)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Instruction

To start, prepare the octopus by removing the tentacles. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and place the tentacles into the pot.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Cook the octopus for 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from the pot and slice the tentacles into roughly 2 inch pieces.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Pour olive oil into a chef’s pan or large pot over medium heat. Add minced garlic.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Cook garlic until it begins to turn golden brown. Add the tomatoes.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add the onions

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add red pepper flakes

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, roughly 10 minutes. Now, add the sliced octopus and any juices.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Add the juice of 1/2 lemon

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Now, the red wine

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Next, the salt and black pepper

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and the crushed, dried oregano

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and the basil

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

capers

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

and bay leaves

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Reduce heat and simmer for roughly 45 minutes.

When the octopus is done, cut your linguini

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Cook the pasta.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

When it’s done, roughly 4 minutes, add the pasta to the braised octopus and toss. Put in a serving vessel and add chopped parsley.

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

Toss, serve & enjoy!

© 2013 REMCooks.com

© 2013 REMCooks.com

NOTES: You can substitute dry white wine for the red wine. We enjoy the added depth of flavor with the red. Also, if you don’t want your braised octopus spicy either reduce the red pepper flakes to 1 Tbsp or eliminate it all together.

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19 thoughts on “Tomato & Red Wine Braised Octopus over Linguini

  1. Now this looks like a dish straight out of a high end restaurant. The closest to this sort of dish would be the calamari we enjoy here.. but I’ve not made such an exotic dish myself, this does look excellent! Especially with fresh pasta!

    • Hi, Barbara. Thanks for your very nice compliment. We really did enjoy it and I am having fun playing with fresh pasta. It had been probably 20 years since I made fresh pasta. While it may be “exotic” it pales in comparison to the beautiful treats on your blog. I am always in awe at your skills.

    • Hi, Courtney. Thanks for the nice compliment. :) Braising the octopus is really the way to go. It has lots of flavor and the octopus is tender. You can also serve this with polenta. If you do try it, let us know what you think.

  2. Thanks for the mention! When will you get around to making stuffed pasta? It is really not that much work if you follow my or John’s instructions and the results can be amazing.
    We love octopus too! (As long as it isn’t tough that is.) I am curious about your sous-vide disaster, because I’ve had great and consistent results cooking octopus sous-vide at a pretty wide range of times and temperatures (4-7 hours at 170-185 degrees).
    Lots of great pouring shots in your post :-) I also like your excellent explanation of how to cook octopus including the shrinkage, which is definitely something to account for.
    I’ve never done pasta with octopus and usually serve it cold as antipasto, but it would in fact be nice to do a pasta dish. Italians would not serve parmigiano over this, and neither would I.
    What a surprise that you like spicy jalapeño sushi with octopus. Is there anything with spicy jalapeño that you don’t like? ;-)

    • Hi, Stefan. Right now I’m playing with the pasta dough. I like the 50/50 flour blend and am now adjusting the eggs. This one had 3 whole eggs and an additional yolk. It gives it a slightly eggier flavor. I’m wanting to try it with duck eggs because they have larger yolks to see if there is any difference. I’m also working on getting the “feel” of the dough. Once I get these basics down, I will try some stuffed pastas. I am already looking at some pasta dies as John gave me the site from which he buys his dies. You guys have gotten me hooked. There definitely will be a stuffed pasta on the blog in the near future.
      As for the pouring shots, every time Baby Lady catches a great pour shot I have to include it for her and Conor. She is taking it as a personal challenge.
      Last, as for the jalapeño (as you long ago surmised), the answer very clearly is no. I eat jalapeño candy, jalapeño cheese bread (which is incredible), jalapeño bagels with gravlax, jalapeños with eggs, jalapeño jelly, jalapeño relish on hot dogs, etc., etc., etc. :D

      • Hi Richard!

        Give it a try without a die as well, which I think is easier. I describe in this post how to do it: http://stefangourmet.com/2011/12/04/how-to-make-fresh-pasta/

        I remember having so much fun with Conor and the pouring shots :-) It is much easier to do lots of them when you have someone there to do them — my pouring shots are usually me juggling the camera in my right hand while pouring with my left hand, even though I am right-handed. I am glad that Kees cleans up after me, so I’d hate to burden him with taking pouring shots for me as well…

  3. This is a wonderful preparation, Richard, and looks delicious. It has such a rich, deep color. Your cooking instructions are so true. Undercook it and you’ll regret it, each and every time. Thanks for the shout-out and I’m glad to see you served it with your homemade noodles. They are so much better tasting than store-bought and once you get the hang of it, really easy to make. We, too, have an octopus recipe, though we refer to it as “in umido”, stewed, and serve it as you did over pasta, or spooned over polenta, or as-is in a bowl with a chunk of crusty bread. My market always has at least a dozen fresh octopi in their display case. You’ve given me the urge to bring one home. :)

    • Hi, John. Thanks for the nice compliment. I have cooked a lot of octopus but had never braised one with red wine. So, I did. :) The flavors on this dish were remarkable. I had thought about using polenta with this dish but have been working on my pasta skills and I knew this would be great with pasta. It was. I wish I could find someone in DFW that regularly carried large (3.5+ lb), fresh (or even frozen) octopus. They take up considerable freezer space and the shipping expense makes them very expensive. We usually buy the small 1.5 lb ones or the babies. I look forward to reading what you do with the octopus when you get it.

    • Hi, Virginia. Thanks for the nice compliment. The last octopus I bought was online because I wanted a 5 pound octopus which you cannot find in DFW. I bought it from http://www.joepattis.com. It’s $3.99/lb plus shipping which gets expensive because they charge you for the styrofoam cooler and it must be shipped overnight delivery. I bought 20 lbs of octopus (5 whole, cleaned octopus) which worked out to about $7/lb. It was a little pricey but you gotta do what you gotta do. If there is a fish market in your area, they should be able to order octopus for you that may be less expensive. If not, ask your grocer if he will special order it. It’s definitely a tasty treat. :)

    • Thanks, Mimi. Many years ago, in my young adulthood days, I dreamed of owning and operating a restaurant. My family wasn’t very supportive and wouldn’t even tell people I cooked for a living. So, I went back to college and then law school, which was a great career decision for me. Now, at 58, the rigors of running a restaurant with 10 hour+ days always on your feet, in the heat, and under a lot of stress to feed and please the customers is a little more than I can handle. Instead, I have the best chef’s job anyone could possibly want. I get to entertain our friends, cook for and with the Baby Lady (and kids when they come back home), try new techniques and new dishes, all in a professionally equipped kitchen in a relaxed atmosphere with a glass of wine in hand. It’s a pretty good gig. Comically, about 6 months ago, my 86 year old Dad asked me why I never opened a restaurant.

      • Did you punch your dad???!!!!! funny story.
        nah, I don’t want you to become a chef. I couldn’t think of a worst job. I just think you should stay home and cook! You obviously really enjoy it!!!
        Isn’t it fun when the kids come home? There no more fun than drinking wine and eating great food with your kids!!!!!

        • Actually, Mimi, I’m one of those happy empty nesters. I love my kids and enjoy seeing them for a day or two (they’re in the early to mid twenties) but after that I move from the wine to the hard stuff and become “Dad,” you know the guy who made you so mad you moved away from home. ;) My best days are cooking for and with my wife, the love of my life and very best friend in the whole world. To this day, she still makes me feel like a teenage boy blindly in love. The difference is I can actually cook now. :D

  4. Funny you would say that… I had to have a talk recently with daughter #1, who’s married, about them not treating my home like a hotel, and asked them to please be quiet when they get home in the middle of the night, and they left mad at me. I will always be Mom.
    Younger daughter lives in London so she’s only home at Christmas, but we jump at every chance to go to England. She’s more quiet and ethereal than older sister, but still great fun at pubs!
    My hubs just retired last year, and it’s been nice having him home more, although he doesn’t help cook. He doesn’t call me baby lady, either. In fact, he doesn’t call me!
    Isn’t it nice when you actually get along even after so many years? 31 for us. I can count the number of couples I know like us on one hand, I think…
    Life is good!

  5. Beautiful tomates for the concassé, silky strands of fresh pasta and that lovely braised octopus with the red wine and hint of chilli. I think you’ve just created the perfect hearty seafood dish for those cooler months. I’m usually just a linguine & clams kinda gal, (rarely eating other seafood pasta, much to my sweetie’s dismay,) but I’ll have to wait for that autumn front to hit and surprise him soon!

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