I'm a mega fan of good, fresh octopus. Sadly, it's hard to find done well around these parts. Octopus generally shows up as a chewy, cold cost-saver on a chef's special sushi plate. Which is a tragedy because when it's cooked right, it's oh-so tender and buttery.
Alex and I had some epic wood-grilled octopus on our honeymoon in Tulum, Mexico. It was super fresh and lightly licked over hot flames, lending it a subtle crunch. The not-so-great cell phone shot below is from the Tulum restaurant Papaya Playa.
Recently, we found a stash of frozen whole octopus in the freezer at Reel Foods and decided to give it a go. Alex thawed an octopus last night and cracked open April Bloomfield's cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, then got to work on the little sea beast.
The recipe for "Stewed Octopus with Butter Beans" has you heat an empty "overproof pot roomy enough to hold the octopus" for five minutes, then place the creature inside, heads up, add olive oil and secure the lid.
From there, Alex departed from the recipe. Instead of placing the octopus in the oven 1 to 1 1/2 hours on 450 F, he reduced the heat on the stove and cooked it there for the same amount of time. When it was through, the little guy had released plenty of juices and shrunk noticeably in size.
Alex finished the octopus off on the Traeger for 10 minutes and served it with potatoes, eggplant and broccoli from the garden. Though the octopus came out a little more dense than we would have liked and slightly gelatinous, it had great flavor and was most definitely tender. I'm psyched for Round Two.