If you’ve tried the grilled octopus at Lidia’s Kansas City, you can tell Lidia Bastianich knows her way around a cephalopod.
Being the kind of cook who likes to tackle unusual recipes, I recently tried out another one of her preparations at home: Braised Octopus. It took a little bit of time, but couldn’t have been easier.
It was a real knockout, near the top of my list in its flavor-to-effort ratio. If you’re one of those eaters who gets icked out by tentacles, it may not be for you, though.
I used a single octopus that was a bit over 2 pounds. I purchased mine at the Price Chopper at Vivion and North Oak in the Northland. Most grocery stores’ fish counters can order one for you if you plan ahead a few days. In the Midwest, it will be frozen solid, and will take a couple of days to thaw in the meat drawer of your refrigerator.
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A few notes on the recipe as listed:
▪ I used vastly less than the 6 tablespoons of olive oil called for. The final result was still rich and had a silky texture. It would be great with the full amount of the oil, I have no doubt.
▪ The recipe calls for “peperonciono,” which I take to mean peperoncino, AKA chilis. But it doesn’t specify which kind, nor do the instructions say how to use them. However, I’m not usually a big fan of a spicy kick in a dish such as this, so I omitted them.
▪ It calls for Taggascia olives, which I think is a different spelling of Taggiasca. They are smallish, purple cured olives. I didn’t have any, but I used my overabundance of Castelvetranos. Any mild, fleshy olive would work.
▪ I see no reason to use a separate skillet to reduce the sauce after the octopus is cooked. Why dirty a second vessel? I got great results with the same 4-quart pan I braised in.
▪ When Lidia instructs you to salt judiciously, she means it. This one needed not one crystal extra.