Chef Teddy Diggs of Il Palio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2-3 small octopi
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
6 sprigs thyme
2 tsp dried hot pepper flakes
Passata di ceci (chickpea puree base)
8 oz dried chickpeas
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoons, salt
8 oz extra virgin olive oil
Herb Battuto (spice rub for the octopus)
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 sprigs rosemary, stem removed
2 sprigs thyme, stem removed
4 sage leaves, minced
2 sprigs oregano, stem removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tsp salt
If you’re uncomfortable cleaning the octopus, ask your fishmonger to clean. To clean at home, old the octopus head under running water and remove the ink sac, stomach and eyes. Use a sharp knife to cut out the beak, which is located at the bottom of the head.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes.
Add the octopi to the pan and rotate it periodically over a five-minute period, cooking it on all sides. The meat will change color and will begin to release its liquid. Cover the pan with a lid or tight-fitting aluminum foil, reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for one hour or until the meat is soft. Cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid.
Carefully separate the tentacles from the head. Cut the tentacles into three-inch pieces and cut the head in half.
While the octopi are cooking, prepare the herb battuto.
To serve, char the octopi over a hot grill until warmed. Spoon the passata di ceci (directions below) onto a plate, add the octopi and drizzle with the herb battuto (directions below).
Garnish with the dried chili pepper as desired and a fresh squeeze of lemon.
For Passata di ceci:
In a pot, combine the chickpeas, bay leaf, salt and enough water to cover the beans. Simmer on medium heat until the beans are tender.
Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
In a blender, puree the beans with enough liquid to make a smooth puree. Slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and keep warm until ready to use.
For Herb Battuto:
Add the herbs, garlic, shallots, olive oil and salt in a small pot and simmer on very low heat. Allow herb mixture to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes.