Posted by: acooksca | 11/10/2012

Polpo – Portuguese style Octopus

Polpo - Portuguese Octopus

Polpo – Portuguese Octopus

Octopus is widely enjoyed in Portugal and with a long coast line you find it on most menus.  Handling a raw octopus can be off-putting for squeamish cooks, but your fish monger will have them cleaned. All you have to do is cut them. Cooking is very easy, follow a recipe for slow and long cooking for the initial hour to tenderize the meat.

As the octopus cooks it exudes a lot of liquid and looses half of its volume, so buy at least ¾ lb per serving for a main course. The juice gets reduced into a tasty sauce in the final stage of cooking. If you are using baby octopus adjust cooking time as this recipe is for larger octopus, often found at about 1 ½ lbs.

Serves 4 as a main course

* 2 ½ to 3 lbs. octopus, fresh or frozen
* 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in large dice
* 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
* 1 1/2 tablespoon massa de pimentao (or paprika)
* 1 tablespoon Piri Piri (or other red chili sauce such as Sriracha)
* 3 bay leaves
* 1 cup white wine
* 1/3 cup virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for drizzling when serving
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 pound boiling potatoes, cut into large pieces
* 1/2 bunch fresh coriander, leaves only (or Italian Parsley)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wash the octopus and separate the body from the tentacles. Scrape out and discard any guts or hard bits (check where the body attaches to the tentacles for the beak) from the body. Cut the tentacles and body into 2-inch pieces.  In a roasting pan place the octopus in one layer and top with the onions, garlic, paprika, hot sauce, bay leaves, wine, 1/3 cup olive oil, salt and ½ cup water. The octopus will exude a lot of juice as it cooks so minimal liquid is needed. Cover the pan with foil & bake for 1 hour or until octopus is fork tender.

Remove the foil, increase the heat to 400 degrees and cook for a further 40 minutes to roast the octopus and concentrate the liquid.  Add more water if needed and cook until the octopus is quite tender in a bed of flavorful juice. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in lightly salted water to just done.

To serve, divide octopus and sauce into heated bowls, place potatoes around, drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle with the roughly chopped cilantro leaves.

Cooks Notes

Piri Piri is a red chili that the Portuguese adopted from East Africa. You can buy commercially made Piri Piri pepper sauce in stores specializing in Portuguese and Spanish products.




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