Moscardini-Polipi agli Agrumi
We took an impromptu day trip to Lecce a few weekends ago. Lecce is often called the Firenze of the South, perhaps for their clean accent or for its astounding beauty. It is very touristy, but without all of the tchotchkes that you can find in Alberobello and other tourist spots around Italy. It is a University town and is filled with wonderful bookstores, one of which has a fantastic cafe. Caffè Letterario is nestled in a little corner surrounded by bookshops, it has a lovely shaded outside seating area that is open all year and we always end up there for a drink, and as was the case this particular Sunday, for lunch. We didn’t expect much, but it was getting late, we were hungry and we weren’t finding much open at that hour. My eyes immediately went to the octopus in the antipasto menu, agli agrumi, with citrus and had to try it. Delicious, absolutely, out of this world delicious. So delicious that I had to go home and make it myself.
It wasn’t stewed as octopus often is, but tasted roasted instead so I gave it a go. I found these moscardini-polipi, which aren’t as prized as octopus, but looked so good in the market, that they ended up coming home with me. I decided to grill mine on a skillet, avoiding turning the oven on in this heat. I boiled them for about 30 minutes before marinating them in a citrus mix that I created. A recipe that I will certainly return to in the future.
Moscardini-Polipi agli Agrumi
- 2 moscardini or octopus, cleaned
- juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
- juice and grated zest of 1 orange
- juice and grated zest of 1 grapefruit
- 1 tbsp lemon or orange marmalade
- a few fresh mint leaves
- extra-virgin olive oil for coating the skillet
Place the octopus in a large pot, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Some suggest placing a cork in the pot to make the octopus more tender, but I have found that freezing your octopus overnight breaks all of the tendons and your get a wonderfully tender octopus everytime. Reduce the heat to a low boil and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Cut lenghtwise into 8 pieces, cutting the head in half.
In a large bowl stir together the juiced fruits, their zest, the marmalade and the mint leaves. Add the octopus pieces and marinade for about an hour.
Preheat the skillet or grill pan. Remove the octopus from the marinade and place on the skillet. Cook, turning once, until crisp and slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side.
When the octopus is cooked, return it to the marinade* and allow to cool a bit before serving.
*my husband thought that returning it to the marinade made the citrus flavors too strong and overpowered the flavor of the octopus. Depends on what you are going for, I thought it was delicious, though I will try it without the second soak the next time.
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