Saturday, July 03, 2010

Working holiday

Well, I'm off on an adventure tomorrow. Everyone who knows me even a little will know that, being a paradoxical sort of creature, I love to travel, but hate leaving the house. But tomorrow, I have to go outside, brave the heat and am on a train up to Gardone Riviera for a conference. So expect offerings here to be a bit light. I'll put up lots of pics of the beautiful Italian lake district resort where I'll be for a week.

Meanwhile, I've been given a bunch of delicious octopi and they've been in the fridge for a while, so today's the day.


The octopi around here are pretty small compared to the ones in BC we used to see sometimes. Still wouldn't want to meet one face to face, or perhaps, face to snorkel mask. These were caught by JP Sonnen who gave them to me when he moved out of his apartment for the summer. (A drawback to living in Santa Marinella is that most of the rental apartments are split into summer and winter rentals. The students live here in during the school year and get quite nice places [compared to Rome] for fairly cheap rent, but they get kicked out in June so the owners can rent to Rome tourists for the summer and make unconscionable amounts of money. I'm one of the few who sticks it out through the year.)


First thing mum always said was read the whole recipe through. No good discovering you're out of baking powder only after the flour, milk and eggs are already mixed up.

So, take:

About 1 pound of octopus
4 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 tbs honey or sugar
2 tbs fresh marjoram (from the balcony pot)
3 tbs fresh thyme
S&P to taste

The secret to cooking octopus is the long cooking time over a low heat, but first you have to blanch it.


That is, dunk them in boiling water, let them parboil for about 2 minutes and remove from the water. This is how you avoid the rubber-octopus problem.


They curl up instantly, and turn a kind of purply red colour.


Then, cut them into large pieces and saute in olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.


Other stuff, ready to go. Clockwise from the bottom left: chopped thyme and marjoram, minced garlic, cup of white wine, tin of tomatoes, Canadian maple syrup (a treat instead of sugar or honey), chopped Thai chilies, coarse black pepper in the silver cellar.


Add the chopped garlic and saute for another minute or two.

Add the wine and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir well and let it cook down for 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chili flakes and allow to simmer with about a teaspoon of salt and the honey or sugar. Mix well, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.


At 30 minutes, add half the herbs. Check the octopus -- sometimes small ones will be tender in just 30 minutes.

If they are still too chewy, cover the pot again and simmer for up to another 45 minutes for the really big ones. But check every ten minutes or so.

When you think you are about 10 minutes away from being done, uncover the pot and turn the heat up a little to reduce the sauce.

Add the remaining herbs at the last minute, and crushed black pepper.

Serve with pasta or very fresh white Italian bread.

Eat.