WHEN I teach cooking classes to American cooks, I show them¬†how to clean and cook an octopus. Octopus is popular in the entire Mediterranean, but it is most¬†closely associated with the cuisine of Greece. A good grilled octopus is like a good grilled steak‚ÄĒit¬†shouldn‚Äôt be too soft (most restaurants boil it to death before grilling it). You should have to work¬†a little to get at the fl avor, chewing and savoring as you would a thick T-bone.
- 1 large, preferably fresh,¬†octopus, about 4 pounds
- 2‚ĀĄ3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 1‚ĀĄ2 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 bay leaves, cracked
- 15 whole peppercorns,¬†lightly crushed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled¬†and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano¬†leaves or 2 teaspoons dried,¬†preferably Greek
- With a sharp knife, cut off the hood of the octopus just below the eyes,¬†and using a small, sharp paring knife, dislodge and discard its beak.Rinse well.
- Place the octopus, olive oil, red wine, vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns,¬†and garlic in a large pot. Cover and heat over medium heat. When the¬†liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer the octopus for¬†35 to 60 minutes, depending on its innate toughness and the thickness of¬†its tentacles. It should be bright pink, tender, but al dente. Let it cool in the¬†pot liquid. (You can do this a day or even two days ahead of time and keep¬†the octopus refrigerated once it cools to room temperature. Just bring it¬†back up to room temperature before grilling.)
- Heat the grill to very hot.
- Remove the octopus from the pot liquid and cut into 8 pieces (along the¬†tentacles). Remove the bay leaves from the pot. Add the oregano. Pour¬†the pot liquid into a food pro cessor or blender and pro cess on high until¬†emulsified.
- Place the octopus tentacles on the grill and cook for 8 to 12 minutes, turning¬†and brushing with the marinade. Remove and serve.