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Charred Octopus

photo: Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

Tender and ever-so-slightly smoky, with a hint of the sea , charred octopus makes a  great starter and a delicious addition to pasta and risotto. The octopus needs to braise for 2 to 3 hours, but when it’s time to serve, all it needs is a few minutes on the grill.


3 Tbs. vegetable oil
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1 small Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
6 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 large dried bay leaf
3 cups white wine, preferably a full-bodied white, such as an unoaked Chardonnay
3 Tbs. white-wine vinegar
Kosher salt
3-1/2 to 4 lb. octopus, cleaned (thawed if frozen)
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on 6 servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 420
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 110
  • Fat (g): 12
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 125
  • Sodium (mg): 850
  • Carbohydrates (g): 14
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 40


  • Heat the vegetable oil in a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium  heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until  beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then add 2 Tbs. salt and 4 cups water. Return to  a boil, then lower to a simmer.
  • Add the octopus, cover, and cook at a low simmer until tender, 2 to 3 hours (cooking  time will vary depending on size). The best way to test for tenderness is to take a bite; it should have almost no chew. If using tiny octopus, some of the heads may  fall off, which is fine.
  • Allow the octopus to cool in the liquid for best flavor. (The octopus may be braised up to 2 days ahead; refrigerate it in the braising liquid.)
  • When ready to serve, remove the octopus from the braising liquid and pat dry. Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) gas or charcoal grill fire. If using a removable grill grid (good for thin tentacles), heat that as well. Toss the octopus with the olive oil and 1/2 tsp. salt. Grill, flipping once, until the tips of the tentacles are slightly charred and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes


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