Another octopus dish you might be thinking? What can I say, I love octopus. While I’m a big fan of grilling octopus outdoors on the bbq, come winter a stew really hits the spot. When you allow the octopus to braise in the stew it becomes very tender.
This recipe was adapted from Diane Kochilas’ The Glorious Foods of Greece. According to Diane, fennel coupled with cephalopods is one of the classic combinations of the Cretan table. This recipe calls for wild fennel leaves, which are not readily available during a Chicago winter. Accordingly, I substituted dried fennel seed. The fennel seed imparts a mild anise flavor; am curious to make this dish in the warmer months when fresh fennel is plentiful.
Enjoy with a glass of red wine and, preferably, a view overlooking the old Venetian Harbor in Chania, on the Island of Crete.
Adapted from Diane Kochilas’s The Glorious Foods of Greece
1 medium octopus (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup chopped red onion
3/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
21 ounces canned whole tomatoes (~ 3/4 of a standard 28 oz. can)
3 yukon gold potatoes, diced into ~ 1 1/2 inch cubes
5 tablespoons olive oil
Large pinch red chili flakes
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Place the octopus in a large pot, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 minutes until the octopus turns bright pink.
Remove the octopus, cut off the tentacles, and slice up the remaining body into large bite-sized pieces. Return the tentacles and body pieces to the pot. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and stir. Add the wine, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the ground fennel, cook for another minute. Add the onions and fennel to the octopus, along with the tomatoes. Cover and simmer another 10 minutes. Add the potatoes, stir to combine, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the potatoes and octopus are tender; add the dill 15 minutes after adding the potatoes.
Ladle the octopus stew into individual dishes. Serve hot (plenty of steam in this photo).