Secco Signature Recipe: Octopus with Smoked Potatoes and Braised Celery
This blog post marks the first in at least a couple of experiments where we share the recipes behind one of Chef Tim’s signature plates. Hard to believe that this is what he considers one of his “simple” dishes. Just reading this recipe and, for the first time, truly coming to terms with the amount of creativity and labor behind it, has me overcome with conflicting emotions. On one hand, I’m incredibly proud to be part of a operation that brings food of this caliber to the table. On the other, I feel like WE WERE STRAIGHT SUCKAS for only charging $8 for this dish.
Any of you weekend warrior chefs up to the task? If so, let us know how it turned out in the comments. Be forewarned, this is not your average “30 Minute Meal” kinda recipe, so put on your cooking shoes (uh, crocs, I suppose) and prepare to take your game to the next level.
Ale-Braised, Paprika-Dusted Grilled Octopus with Smoked Yukon Potatoes, Braised Celery, Celery Leaves and Squid Ink Sauce
For the Octopus:
Octopus • 1, 6-8 pounds
Celery • 1 stalk, roughly chopped
Yellow Onion • 1 each, peeled and quartered
Carrot • 1 large, peeled and coarsely chopped
Fresh Thyme • 4 sprigs
Fresh Garlic • 2 cloves, peeled
Bay Leaves • 2 each, fresh if available
Wine Cork • 1 each
Ale* • 32 ounces
*You’re best off using something mild, golden and slightly sweet (we used a French Biere de Garde); avoid anything too hoppy or dark.
Set up an ice bath that is large enough to hold the octopus once it’s cooked. In a large stockpot, bring the ale up to a boil with the vegetables, herbs and wine cork. Grab the octopus by its body and add it to the pot–dunking it a few times before completely submerging it). Gently simmer the octopus until tender–about 90 minutes. To check doneness lift the octopus out of the water with a large spoon and pinch in between the legs, right where they meet the body. If the gelatin-like skin begins to crack or tear slightly it’s ready. Plunge the octopus into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cool, portion it by cutting the legs away from the body. Reserve the head and body for another use. Refrigerate the legs until needed.
For the Smoked Potatoes and Celery:
Yukon Potatoes •3 each, peeled and diced
Celery • 2 stalks, fibers removed
Celery Leaves • about 50 picked from the center of the head
Olive Wood Shavings • as needed for smoking the potatoes
Chicken Stock • as needed (vegetable stock alternatively)
Set up an ice bath in a container large enough to hold the cooked potatoes. Place the diced potatoes into a pot and fill it with enough water to cover them by an inch. Bring the potatoes up to a simmer and cook until al dente–about 5 minutes once at a simmer. Drain and plunge the cooked potatoes into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once chilled, drain completely. Place potatoes in a bowl and cover with plastic film. Smoke them twice using the olive wood and Poly Science Smoking Gun, then reserve until needed.
Place the celery in a sauté pan, then pour enough stock in to partially cover the stalks. Add and pinch of salt and pepper, then bring the stock up to a simmer. Cook slowly until celery is al dente, then remove the stalks from the pan and cool in the refrigerator. Cool stock and reserve for another use.
For the Squid Ink Sauce:
Squid Ink • 1 teaspoon
Yellow Onion • ¼ Cup, finely chopped
Fresh Thyme • 2 sprigs
Fresh Garlic • 1 clove, finely chopped
Canned Tomatoes • 12 ounce can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil • as needed
Using a medium-sized sauce pot, add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom by 1/16 of an inch. Add the onions, garlic and thyme and sweat over medium heat until softened. Add the canned San Marzano tomatoes along with the squid ink and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, remove the thyme sprigs and place mixture into a blender. Process until smooth, then cool completely and reserve.
To Complete the Dish:
Preheat your grill on high. Coat the octopus with extra virgin olive oil, then generously dust the octopus with smoked Spanish paprika, salt and pepper. Place on the grill and cook until you get some char on both sides of each leg and the octopus is cooked through–about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover in foil to keep warm.
While the octopus is cooking, sauté the potatoes over medium-high heat until lightly browned then finish in a 475 degree oven until tender. At the last minute, add the celery so it has a chance to warm up in the pan. Place mixture in a small bowl and add the celery leaves. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Dab a basting brush in the squid ink sauce and paint a swoosh on each plate. Take each cooked octopus leg and cut into two pieces. Stack the octopus and potatoes/celery creatively on the plate (see photo) and serve.