I love love love octopus. I love the texture, the colour, the way the tentacles curl when they’re cooked. I even love when the little suckers fall off when you cook it in a stew. Octopus, like squid, is fairly mild flavoured and works well with just about any flavour combo you can think of. Don't feel intimidated by this ingredient, the only trick to conquering a big fat cephalopod is to take your time, don’t rush it. There’s nothing worse than chewing on a bit rubber no matter how pretty it looks.
This is a fairly easy recipe and you can prepare the remaining ingredients while the octopus is doing its thing in the oven. Yes, its another confit recipe. I use this technique a lot because it's very gentle. I do hope you try it, it's really lovely and the fruit brings a sharpness and a lightness to the buttery octopus, not unlike lemon in a dressing. It might seem strange to eat orange in a dish like this, but citrus and savoury are the very best of friends. As for the olives you can use some good quality jarred tapenade but it really is as simple as whizzing together a few ingredients in a blender. Pescetarian friends, feel free to leave out the chorizo, it’s just as delicious with out it.
I used a fairly small octopus, which probably serves one as a light lunch, or two as a starter, if you get a bigger octopus you can slice it into bite sized chunks if you like.
I cleaned octopus, head removed and sliced into single tentacles
½ small leek , sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic, sliced
Olive oil - enough to cover
Sea salt and crushed black peppercorns
Preheat the oven to about 140C. Blanch the tentacles by dipping in boiling water until they curl, you can skip this step if you’re planning on slicing into bite sized pieces.
Line the base of a small, lidded, oven proof dish (I used a cast iron cocotte) with the sliced leek and sprinkle over half the garlic and add the octopus. Throw in the remaining garlic, season with salt and pepper and pour in enough olive oil to cover everything. Cook until tender (about an hour and a half maybe longer depending on the size of the octopus). Let it cool in the oil.
Olive and chorizo tapenade
15 kalamata olives in oil
1 small garlic clove
¼ uncooked soft chorizo sausage (nduja or sobrassada are great substitutes)
Good quality olive oil
In a food processor, blitz the olives, garlic and a good glug of oil. Remove the skin of the chorizo and dice as finely as you can. In a food processor mince it further then stir in fair few tablespoons of oil. In a medium hot pan, cook the chorizo in the oil gently until cooked through. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Mix the olive and chorizo together, you want to be able to taste chorizo and olive, so the ratios are up to you. I mixed 2 tbs of olive to 1tbs of meat, but again, up to you.
Blood orange slices (or peeled segments) and zest
Mixed baby leaves
Mixed herbs (parsley, coriander, dill, mint)
Good quality hummus
Lemon (just a squeeze)
Good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place a dollop of hummus in the centre of a place and arrange the orange slices around it. Dollop the tapenade over the orange then add the octopus and some of the chickpeas.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and a little orange zest.
Mix together the salad leaves and herbs, dress this with the olive oil and lemon just before serving (or you end up with horrible soggy leaves) and pile over the top.