Octopus Stew

Octopus Stew 1

I had in mind to make myself an octopus stew and, in reviewing all sorts of recipes, I saw a remarkable commonality in theme in dishes hailing from Greece, Malta, Spain, Italy and Portugal. The basic dish, is octopus stew in a tomato base, generally with wine. Olives, and sometimes capers, are frequent additions and many incorporate potatoes. Today’s preparation is an amalgam of many dishes I saw…

Octopus Stew 2

For a light meal for two, about a pound of octopus will suffice. This may sound like quite a bit, but the octopus will lose volume as it cooks. You first need to prepare your octopus flesh for stewing as I have done here.

 

Octopus Stew 3

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan over moderate heat and add a half a small onion sliced into thin half-rings, a half-cup of diced red bell pepper, and a tablespoon of minced garlic. Saute until softened and season with a little pepper and a pinch of herbs of your choosing (I used a little thyme and rosemary).

 

Octopus Stew 4

Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce (you can use a commercial variety if it is not heavily seasoned, or else homemade), and a half cup of wine. You can use red or white, but choose carefully for compatibility in taste. I used a low-tannin red here, but an off-dry white with just a touch of fennel would work nicely. Then, add the octopus and let it all simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes or so until the flesh is nicely tender. At this point, you can continue on immediately, or let the stew cool until ready to finish. Doing this allows the flavors to blend nicely and will improve the end result…

 

Octopus Stew 5

Finally, add a medium parboiled potato cut into chunks along with a half-cup of black olives (pitted and halved), and heat gently until everything reaches serving temperature. Season with salt as necessary and serve.

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