Grilled Pulpo on Lemon & Thyme Mashed Potatoes
Yes, this fellow was a monster alright- but a delicious and beautiful one at that! So big in fact, that all I took home from the fishmongers of this "octopod", was a "tripod" :-) But three of these yummy tentacles made for a more than ample and delicious supper- and my first encounter with cooking octopus was the challenge of the evening!
This meal was a re-creation of one of the tastiest dishes I had the pleasure of enjoying on my recent trip to Sicily. At the port of Syracusa, in the hot midday sun, with a chilled white wine, this was a revelation and an unforgettable treat! Well- it was until I made my own version of it this evening- which in all due modesty was probably a little better still! And this is how I made it!
My main fear in cooking the octopus, is that it would turn to rubber- I am sure we have all tried chewing bicycle-inner-tube-like octopus at some point or other! So I read up a little on how to prepare it and found that people say that it is always better to steam the octopus rather than to boil it... so that is what I did!
I popped it into my steamer, looking grey and rather ugly... and let it sit and do its thing for 45 minutes. Imagine my joy when I finally took off the lid to discover this lovely, purple colored, tender and transformed treat! The whole time I had been fretting over how to make it look attractive for you all- and for me as well!
I rinsed it under a cold tap and gently rubbed off the purple skin... but I didn't overdo it- just the stuff that had loosened-up during cooking. The remaining color is very attractive I think!
I heated up my grill pan until it was very, very hot and added a splash of olive oil, some chopped garlic, and the octopus, which I had cut into bite-sized chunks. I wanted it to become crispy and toasted on the outside and remain juicy and soft inside and the only way to do that is to give it a blast of extreme heat for a short time... so that is what I did! Make sure to turn off your smoke alarms! I seasoned with salt and pepper and gave it a good squeeze of lemon juice as well as a splash of white wine vinegar. One last drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of finely chopped parsley and hey presto! Dinner was ready!
I served it up on a bed of creamy mashed potato, which I seasoned with a little grated lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, a hint of nutmeg and of course salt and pepper. I mashed the potatoes up with warm milk that I had boiled-up with a clove of garlic to give it a nice, gentle perfume. But I then drizzled it with a little olive oil rather than adding butter, to keep the flavors more mediterranean... as well as a sprinkle of fresh thyme to add an extra "zing!" to the whole affair... wow!
Please try this out some time as I know you are going to love it as much as I did! And quite possibly even more!