Polpo alla Luciana
We were in Liguria this past weekend visiting my in-laws. It may be a cliché, but my mother-in-law is an amazing cook, and not such a cliché, she is also a very cool woman. When we arrived on Friday evening she had prepared Polpo alla Luciana, among 1000 other things. Polpo alla Luciana is an octopus dish that originated in the Borgo Santa Lucia district of Naples, next to the Castel del’Ovo and the Borgo Marinai, the fisherman’s warf.
A goal of mine is to shadow my mother-in-law in the kitchen for about a month, this would require me to wake up a little bit earlier and to stick around a little longer than the normal weekend that we usually take to make the trip up north. She tends to prepare everything ahead of time, or in the morning, of course this is all practical, she would rather spend the time that we are all together actually with us and not in the kitchen, so I just need to adjust to her schedule a bit more. I have had a few occasions to follow her step-by-step and she is always a phone call away and open for kitchen consultation. I have so much to learn from her and this is one of those recipes that I am dying to learn how to make. I am sure that it is very simple, the recipe that follows is in no way complicated, but I want to know how to handle the octopus, I am a little intimidated, I have to admit.
Polpo alla Luciana
- 2 lbs. baby octopus verace
- 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, chopped and seeded, san marzano will also do
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 handful parsley
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt & pepper
Tenderize the octopus by beating with a mallet on a hard, preferably marble, table. Clean and wash.
Put the octopus into a heavy-bottomed pot (a terracotta pot is preferable for this preparation), you don’t need to add salt to this because the octopus is already salty enough, add pepper to taste with the tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, garlic.
Seal the pot with aluminum foil fastened with string, and place the cover on top. Cook over low heat for 1 & 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the octopus, with the baby octopus it should take less than an hour. Shake the pot occasionally, so that the octopus does not stick to the bottom.
*The remaining sauce can be used serve over pasta, I will feature what my suocera did with the sauce and the heads of the baby octopus in my next post!!