Along the entire southern coast of the Italian Peninsula, the seas are full of octopus. Each region makes use of this privilege in their own way, however, Tuscany is known to use it in a traditional dish known as Drunken octopus, or "polpo ubriaco" in Italian.
Drunk octopus is a typical second course dish served in Tuscany and is usually served over potatoes or rice. Octopus is fairly easy to cook, however, it is important to cook it in a flavorful liquid, such as a high quality, young, red wine in order to instill exceptional flavor. Outlined below is an easy step by step guide to making your own, authentic "polpo ubriaco."
Ingredients for Drunken Octopus Recipe (Polpo Ubriaco)
- 1 small, raw octopus (about 1 lb. uncooked)
- 1 stick of celery, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1/2 a medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 bottle of young, high quality red wine
- 1 lb. of potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- The juice of half a medium lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a small pot over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add the carrots, celery, and onion and cook stir until all of the vegetables are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle them with salt and let them cook until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the octopus to the pot and stir. Cook until the octopus releases its natural juices, this should take about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the full bottle of red wine, thyme, and bay leaves. If the wine does not completely cover the octopus, add water until it does.
4. Raise this mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the octopus for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring it with a wooden spoon.
5. Remove the pot from the heat and let the octopus cool in the liquid. Meanwhile, you can prepare and cook the potatoes.
6. Once cool, remove the octopus from the liquid and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the legs and head into bite sized pieces, removing any unappetizing parts.
7. In a medium frying pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and three cloves of peeled and smashed garlic. Sauteé the octopus in the oil over low heat until it is crispy.
8. Combine the cooked potatoes with the octopus and toss until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Toss the mixture with a wooden spoon and add lemon juice as needed. Serve this meal warm and enjoy!