Saturday, 15 August 2015

24 Legs Under The Sea

Tagine di Polipetti, Salami Piccante, Cipolla di Tropea, Patate & Timo
Baby Octopus, Spicy Salami, Tropean Onion, Potato & Thyme Tagine


I am presuming that you love one-pot dishes as much as I do... Am I right? Of course you do... We all do! Especially if we want to have a nice, cooked meal rather than just a salad again, but are still reluctant to stand at the stove again because of the heat...

This is a meal that takes care of itself more or less and it is especially fun if you make it in a tajine like I did... But if you don't have one, fear not, it will work just fine in a saucepan too.

What of course is the best thing about meals that cook in one pot, is not simply that they are convenient, but that all of the flavors of each and every one of your ingredients is trapped in there and cooks together... Giving you a wonderful richness that is otherwise hard to achieve... So what are you waiting for? Even more reasons to want to make this?!?!

Ok then... Carry on reading and I will give you some!


The ingredients for my dish, which I served up as 3 appetizer-sized servings were: 3 baby octopus, 4 small potatoes, 1 stalk of celery, about 4" of spicy salami, 1 beautiful "cipolla di Tropea"- but a regular red onion (or for that matter ANY onion) will also be fine, some fresh parsley and thyme, a hint of salt and plenty of black pepper.


The onion that I mentioned, the sweet and aromatic "cipolla di Tropea", comes from the town or the surrounding region of Tropea in Sicily... Mild and sweet and a treat should you be able to find them at your market... But as I said, any other will do just fine.

The thing that gives this dish the most flavor of course is the salami... Get a nice, hot and spicy one- or alternatively, you could use a chorizo, although the salami I used had considerably less fat... But that is a matter that I shall leave up to you to decide upon.

For now... Let's get cooking!


Start off by cutting the octopus into smaller pieces- I removed the head and cut it in two, then cut the tentacles in two as well, so that each piece had 4 attached... But that too is a matter of preference. I put these, together with half of the salami, cut into slices, into my tajine (or saucepan), along with plenty of thyme and black pepper, but no salt, and turned up the heat to get the salami sizzling basically.

What I have learned, when it comes to cooking octopus, is that if you are preparing it in this kind of dish and not simply steaming or boiling it, is that it should cook in its own juices. This is the method they use in southern Italy... And you will be surprised how much water there is trapped in these little beauties! More than enough to cook the potatoes in for example... So we will add them next.


Along with the potatoes, which I cut into quarters, in go the onions, also cut into quarters, the celery and plenty of celery leaves, cut into small chunks... And then in goes the lid.

Allow to steam away for 30 minutes, then remove the lid, stir and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes or so.

After 20 minutes, there will still be plenty of liquid in the tajine or saucepan, so let it continue to com without the lid for 4-5 minutes, until it is all but evaporated away and then add the remaining salami. Turn the heat up high and stir this in until it also begins to sizzle. By this point, the onion will of course be very tender and the potatoes may be a little delicate, but even if they crumble apart a little... Things will all be fine... You"ll see!


When your dish is finished... It may look a little messy, but fear not... Once you have added a nice sprinkle of parsley and thyme, that will all change in a heartbeat... And it is the flavor that really matters anyway... And I will guarantee for you that, THAT will be terrific!


I also did not need to add any salt to my dish as the octopus brings a bit of sea-saltiness with it and the salami of course is also salted... But have a little taste before you serve it to your guests and feel free to add some if you think it needs it... Just hold-off until the end with this dish... Just in case!

And there you have it! And need I say more? Nope! I didn't think so! Except for "Buon appetito!" That is!

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