Octopus (1 of 1)

Octopus with fork2 (1 of 1)
Now that the summer season has kicked off with Memorial Day this past weekend, the Dinner Party category on this blog is expanding to incorporate some of my favorite lunches and BBQ’s that will take place over the next few languorous months.

B&W 2 (1 of 1)

B&W 1 (1 of 1)

Location: Bedford, New York

Host(s):  C.S.N & Family

Occasion: Memorial Day Lunch & BBQ

Menu: Slow-Cooked Octopus, Grilled Steak, Honey Shrimp, Pork Belly, Farofa (made with Yucca flour this South American staple has the consistency of toasted couscous), Chorizo and Black Beans, Grilled Zucchini, Boiled Yucca with Vinaigrette,  Roasted Corn, Watermelon Feta Salad, Spicy Bloody Mary’s, Rhubarb Pie and Ice Cream

Bloody Mary (1 of 1)

shrimp 2 (1 of 1)

pork belly 2 (1 of 1)

Chorizo (1 of 1)

This short week has flown by, but I wanted to leave you with this sexy mouth-watering Octopus recipe from my friend Carolina, who we met in an Up Close chef profile. We had two professional chefs and the mama who was the great inspiration to Carolina, all in the kitchen at the same time for one late boozy Memorial Day lunch.  There were so many amazing dishes it was tough to choose a recipe to feature.  I chose the octopus because it looks beautiful and wild and dramatic.  And tastes just as amazing!  The octopus gets charred on the outside during the first steps of cooking, but becomes soft and sweet and almost otherworldly over the long cooking period.

lawn 2 (1 of 1)

Hosanna (1 of 1)

Grill (1 of 1)

Table Setting outside (1 of 1)

Steak Cutting (1 of 1)
Octopus with fork (1 of 1)

A note from Carolina: I love this recipe. I love octopus. Many think it’s hard to make. I think the best rule is, it’s better to overcook than undercook. I know, crazy piece of advice given what you normally do with fish and seafood.  If you can find fresh octopus, that is ideal, but if not, frozen works just as well. The octopus is naturally salty, so no need to salt it.

Using a cast iron pot in this recipe makes all the difference – it helps to char and blacken the octopus, which gives it greater depth of flavor.   The octopus is great served on its own, or it could be served over white beans.

Serves: 6  as an appetizer

a cast iron pot
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 shallots, minced
3 bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons smoked paprika
4-5 lb fresh octopus or defrosted
a small plate
a heavy object to weigh down the octopus
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat cast iron pot on the stove over high heat, add olive oil, shallots, bay leaves and smoked paprika. Cook for 1 minute. When oil is very hot, add octopus, tentacles down, head up. Flip it over after 3 minutes. Cook for 1 minute, and then flip again. Place a plate on top of the octopus, and a heavy object on top of that – a stone wrapped in tinfoil would work. The reason for this is that the octopus releases a lot of water, and it’s in this water that the octopus will cook and tenderize. Put a lid on the pot and turn heat to low.

Cook for 45-60 minutes.  After 45 minutes, check to see if it’s ready by cutting off a little piece, it should be tender not chewy.  When it’s ready, transfer to a cutting board, cut into bite size pieces, and squeeze a little fresh citrus on it.