Polpi in Umido
Italian-style Octopus Simmered in Wine and Tomatoes
This is a recipe for Southern Italian-style stewed octopus with white wine and tomatoes. The dish originated in Puglia, near the heel of Italy's boot. Octopus requires long, slow simmering, so keep your temperature low and give yourself plenty of time. This dish is at its best when you can get octopus fresh from the sea at a local fishmonger Serve with crusty bread or linguine. This recipe serves 4 as an appetizer or a light main course.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
• 1 lb octopus, either small or large
• 4 T. olive oil
• 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
• 1 cup crushed tomatoes or peeled, chopped fresh tomatoes
• 1 cup white wine
• 2 T. honey or sugar
• 1 t. chopped fresh oregano or thyme
• 4 T. chopped fresh parsley
• 1 t. chile flakes
• 2 T. capers (optional)
• Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil. Toss the octopus into the boiling water, return to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, then remove. Discard water.
Skin the octopus, remove the beak and the ink sac, then cut into large pieces and saute in olive oil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. 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 chile flakes and bring to a simmer.
Add about a teaspoon of salt and the honey or sugar. Mix well, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
At 30 minutes, add the capers if you are using them, plus the oregano or thyme and half the parsley. Check the octopus ––– smaller ones will be tender in just 30 minutes.
Octopus can be very stubborn and uncooperative, so if they are still super-chewy, cover the pot again, and simmer for up to another 45 minutes.
When you think you are about 10 minutes away from being done, uncover the pot and turn the heat up a little to cook down the sauce.
To serve, add the remaining oregano or thyme, parsley and black pepper. Serve either hot or at room temperature with pasta, bread, and a green salad dressed olive oil, lemon juice and a hint of Dijon mustard. Homemade granita di cafe makes a lovely finish to the meal.