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Octopus with Chorizo and Fresh Oregano

Written By Culinary Pen on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | 3:33:00 AM

I saw the oddest thing on TV a week ago: octopus with boiled potatoes. It was just a glimpse of the dish, with no real explanation. I thought I saw lemon and roasted red peppers, too, but I'm not sure. It was odd, but I thought the combination might work. Taste-wise, potatoes are bland and so is octopus. Their strength is that they can take on so many great flavors with only a little effort. While they're similar taste-wise, the two couldn't be more different texturally. Boiled red potatoes are soft, smooth, and yielding to the jaws. Octopus will make you work a bit more, even when cooked correctly. So I thought I could give it a shot. To bring the two main ingredients together, I turned to the pig. In this case I went with chorizo, a garlicky, dry-cured sausage from Spain that's flavored with heaps of smoked paprika and garlic. It's nice to eat, but really shines when diced and fried. First I simmered the octopus for an hour to make it tender. Then the octopus came out and the potatoes went in to boil. In the meantime I sauteed the chorizo to get the fat running in the pan. Before long I had a glorious, bright red sheen of chorizo fat coating the bottom of the pan. In went the roughly chopped octopus, along with a big diced clove of garlic.

To set the dish off, I had room for one more "big" flavor. I worried the dish might be a little heavy as-is, so I went with a punchy herbal flavor. Fresh oregano is great with seafood, or dishes that need a flavor boost that you might not get with other soft herbs, like basil or parsley.

While it's not the same dish that originally got me thinking, I really like the way this turned out. Creamy potatoes, chewy octopus, all mixed up with spicy, smokey bites of chorizo and the occasional lemony/grassy smack of oregano. It's a nice Mediterranean dish that makes me wish it was actually warm enough for the first al fresco dinner of spring.

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Anonymous said...

Just make sure you get rid of the head quickly! They smell *terrible* after a few days.

Culinary Pen said...

Thanks for the suggestion, but I eat the head.