Yiannis roussos crafty octopus recipe

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  • Yield: 8 Servings


  • 2 whole octopi, about 3 pounds (1.4 kg) each, fresh or frozen (thawed overnight in the refrigerator)
  • 1 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup good red wine vinegar
How to Make It
  1. Wash and rub 1 octopus under cold running water, kneading as you go, for about 8 minutes.
  2. Grasp 1 tentacle in one hand and another, adjoining tentacle in the other and pull apart the octopus until you get 8 pieces. Repeat with second octopus.
  3. Place the octopi in a wide, shallow pot or deep skillet. Cover with water and heat over very high heat. As the juices boil, skim the foam off the top. Cook at a rolling boil for about 25 minutes, or until about two-thirds of the juices have cooked off. Add another cup or two of water. Bring back to a boil over medium heat and keep skimming off the foam.
  4. Be attentive, as Yiannis advises: The thinner ends of the tentacles will need less time to cook, so they don’t have to be submerged in the liquid once they are tender; they curl up anyway and tend to pop out of the liquid. Using a wooden spoon or fork, submerge the thicker parts so that they cook.
  5. After about 35 minutes, as the octopi nears completion (press a finger into one’s flesh to test it; it should be tender), push them to one side and boil the juices, which will foam up on one side of the skillet, until reduced by about half. All in all the octopi should need 40 to 45 minutes of boiling. They will turn deep blackish pink.
  6. When the octopi are tender (but not mushy), very slowly drizzle in the olive oil, pouring it in a slow, steady stream all over the surface of the octopi. Yiannis says the heat should be very high and that “if it catches fire, it’s a success!”—I prefer medium heat and the caveat to be careful.
  7. With a wooden spoon or fork, gently stir and dislodge the octopi should they begin to stick to the bottom. The olive oil and pan juices will emulsify and within a few minutes will result in a thick deep reddish brown gravylike liquid. Add the vinegar, cook another 5 minutes, remove from the heat, and serve hot.

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