Alda’s Braised Octopus with Potatoes

Feeds 8


1 octopus, 4-6 pounds, head and beak removed

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup sliced red onion

6 garlic cloves, smashed

3 chiles de arbol, whole

16 small waxy potatoes, peeled few good branches fresh thyme

1 quart water

salt to taste



1.     In the enameled Dutch oven, gently heat the EVOO and warm the onions, garlic, chilies, thyme, and potatoes. Stir the vegetables until they start to give up steam and look alive. Sweat down a bit but do not get any color, just 2-3 minutes.

2.     Nestle the octo neatly in the pot. Add enough cool water to not quite cover the octopus. Season accurately with salt, keeping in mind that the octopus will render its own seawatery liquid into the pot during cooking.

3.     Cover with the heavy, tight-fitting lid and bring up to a boil. When steam comes jetting out of the pot, turn down heat to a very, very gentle low simmer-and let her go undisturbed 45 minutes.

4.     Check in on the octopus then, stiring things around, feel the firmness/tenderness of the thickest park of the legs, re-cover, and let it continue to simmer.

5.     Check occasionally for doneness by piercing the creature with a skewer.

6.     At first, it will turn bright purple-red and swell up considerably, but when it is nicely tender it will have shrunk and become blueish purple.