French-style braised octopus

Serves: 6
Prep: 30 min, plus 1 hr marinating
Cook: 1 hr 5 min

1.5kg baby octopus
250ml extra virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled, quartered lengthways and sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced in half lengthways and sliced
6cm knob of fresh ginger root, sliced
8 small spring onions, rimmed and cut into quarters
1 baby fennel bulb, finely sliced lengthways
150g smoked bacon bones, sliced
4 tsp sea salt
1/2 bunch of Thyme
55g Sugar
80ml Red wine

For the marinade:
10 garlic clove, peeled
5cm knob of fresh ginger root, roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt
125ml sherry vinegar
80ml extra virgin olive oil
55ml Honey


1. First clean the octopus. Cut the tentacles away from head below the beak. Cut away and discard the beak, then turn the body inside out. Remove ink sac and internal organs. Strip skin away from head and tentacles under running water. Rinse and drain well, then cut octopus in half.

2. To make the marinade, pound the garlic, chopped ginger and salt with a pestle and mortar until crushed. Stir in the sherry vinegar and olive oil.

3. Place the cleaned octopus in a bowl and pour over the garlic mixture and honey. Using your hands, mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan.

5. Add in the sliced ginger, carrots, celery, onions, fennel, bacon bones and salt.

6. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

7. Reduce the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until vegetables are lightly browned.

8. Add in the thyme and sugar, increase heat again and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 2 minutes.

9. Drain the octopus from the marinade; reserving the marinade.

10. Add octopus to a heavy-based pan and stir over high heat to sear octopus and seal in juices.

11. Pour in reserved marinade, along with the red wine, and bring to the boil.

12. Reduce heat and simmer gently, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the octopus is tender. Serve.

Cooks Notes:
It’s beautiful warm or at room temperature, and it makes a lovely lunch with some crusty bread and a great bottle of red. I really love the smoky bacon bones in this recipe – get your butcher to saw them into slices for you.”

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