Monday, October 25, 2010

Octopus Cataplana

I love octopus, so when I saw a nice one in a frozen block the other day I had to grab it.  I was turnin' my wheels in hopes of some seasonal-seaming application and then it hit me, like a big copper pac-man.
Hammered Iberian Copper Cataplana - 10.5 inch/27 cmDuring a brief stint in Portugal a few years back I had a very unique combination that has stuck with me. Octopus and sweet potato, stewed together slowly in a "cataplana"- which is one of those terms that acts as both the name of the vessel it's cooked in and the name of the dish itself.   I'm sure the memory was made more outstanding by the fact that is was at a cute little spot right on the beach . . . during sunset,  but the flavors stood out in my memory as being very harmonious. 

I know this recipe might not be for everybody, but if you're feeling adventurous, believe me when I tell you this will be worth your while. 

Octopus and Sweet Potato Cataplana
4-6 lb Octopus, cut into large chunks and seasoned well with salt
6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Sweet potatoes, cut into half inch slices
1 green pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
1 large onion, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups stock (lobster, shrimp or fish if you can, otherwise use veggie stock)
1 28oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of white wine (what ever your drinking with dinner)
1 bunch of parsley

1. In a small stock pot, combine the stock, crushed tomatoes, vinegar and wine. Bring it all to a simmer.
2. Heat an 8 quart pot (with a lid) over medium heat.  Add enough oil to just put a film on the pan and lightly cook the garlic.  Little or no browning should occur.
3.  Add 1 cup of the tomato/stock liquid to the pot and layer a few slices of onion and pepper, followed by half of the sweet potato slices, followed half of the octopus chunks.
The layering process
4. Add another cup of the tomato/stock liquid and repeat the layer process.
5. To finish, top with a final layer of onions and pepper, and distribute the remaining liquid or the top.
6. Bring the whole thing to a simmer,  cover and place in a 350 degree oven for two hours.

Print this recipe!! 

The finished product is a rich flavor stew.  Allow it to cool down just a bit and be careful when you go to serve it,  everything in there is nice and soft, so you don't want to break it up too much. 

See what I did with the leftovers!
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