A Meal with Legs — Lots of ’em
Editors’ Note: Some of you may already know Bliz from his work over at A Moveable Feast. We’ve asked him to stop by ES and share some of his culinary exploits and photographic hotness with us.
I love my friends. They give me the freedom to assign menus with the authority of a fascist dictator. They complement my efforts despite my failures. They smile and eat dishes that I myself stopped eating after a few bites. But while I appreciate their support, a twisted part of me really likes to see them squirm when I serve up something they weren’t expecting. So last Saturday, the gang got a taste of braised octopus with home fries. The reactions, to say the least, were mixed…
After a lot of searching, I was able to lay my hands on some fresh, baby octopus (after failing to find the larger, more adventurous variety). Just like store-bought squid, octopus has a fickle cooking time. A quick sear/grill maintains the taste of the ocean and firm texture. Cook for a few minutes too long and it turns into rubber.
The other popular way to cook octopus is braising — I find it a little easier, although it still requires a lot of care. You want to maintain that taste of the sea and the unique firmness of the ‘pus, so you don’t want to braise it so long that it loses that ocean flavor and becomes bland and flavorless. I found one hour braised in white wine and water did the trick just fine.
Octopi for 4
2 lbs baby octopus, cleaned
1 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, sliced
Big pinch cayenne powder
4 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
Big pinch paprika
2 knobs butter
Add oil and onions to a pot and saute till tender. Add your garlic, cayenne and octopus and toss for 1 minute. Pour in wine, water, and bay leaf. Bring to boil and reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour.
After about 30 minutes, peal/dice potatoes and add to another pan of salted, boiling water. Boil for about 5 minutes, drain. Add butter and oil to medium hot pan and toss in the potatoes and lay on a single layer (work in batches is necessary). Let bottom brown and flip fries, tossing in a little salt.
While potatoes are frying, remove cooked ‘pus and set aside. Save 1 cup of cooking broth and reduce the shit out of it until you have ¼ cup remaining. Remove from heat, add knob of butter and let cool and thicken.
Once potatoes are fried and tender, toss octopus in reduced sauce and lay on top of the plated potatoes. Hopefully someone will be grossed out, but this is quality grub.