Amp up your first backyard BBQ with this light, delicious recipe!

CRISPY OCTOPUS with Bean Salad

BY JONATHAN SEARLE, EXECUTIVE CHEF AT 21C MUSEUM HOTEL

Summer is almost here—it’s time to prep for weekend after weekend of barbecues with your family and friends. Give your go-to summer get-together recipe a chic makeover with this delicious appetizer.

SERVES 6–8

OCTOPUS INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large octopus
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 3 Fresno chili peppers, split
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme

BEAN SALAD INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 yellow onion, halved
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
  • Pinch of red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Celery leaves for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For the octopus, preheat the oven to 300°F. Cut the octopus at the base of the tentacles to remove the top. Pull the beak out of the centre of the tentacles, and cut at the base to separate each tentacle.
  2. Heat a large Dutch oven on the stove at high heat. Add one tablespoon of vegetable oil, turn off the flame if using a gas stove, and add the tentacles. Once the octopus has stopped spitting, turn the heat back on medium-high. Add water as necessary—there should be just enough to cover the octopus.
  3. Add the garlic, Fresno chili peppers, bay leaves, and thyme. When the liquid comes to a simmer, put the lid on the Dutch oven and place it in the oven.
  4. Check the octopus after one hour and every 30 minutes thereafter until it is done. Use kitchen shears to cut one tentacle at its thickest part. If the shears cut through with minimal force, the octopus is ready. Remove the pot from the oven and let the octopus chill in the refrigerator in its juices until ready to use.
  5. Place the beans, garlic, bay leaves, one stalk of celery, onion, salt, and thyme in a pot and cover with water. Cook on low heat for several hours until the beans are tender. Let the beans cool in the refrigerator in the liquid until ready to use.
  6. Tear the Castelvetrano olives into small pieces. Peel the remaining stalks of celery and cut them into 1/8-inch slices. Strain the beans to remove the liquid. Mix the olives, red chili pepper flakes, celery, parsley (save some for garnish), beans, and olive oil in a large bowl. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Let the bean salad marinate. Stir often to lift flavour over the beans.
  7. To finish, heat a heavy cast iron pan to medium-high. Remove the octopus tentacles from the liquid and make sure there isn’t any congealed liquid on them.
  8. Once the pan is hot and the octopus is sufficiently dried, add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan. Add the octopus and sear until crispy (about 1–2 minutes). Turn the tentacles over and repeat.
  9. Remove the tentacles from the pan and place them on a tray with paper towels to remove any remaining oil.
  10. Stir the bean salad one more time. Spoon a cup of the bean salad into each serving bowl. Place
one tentacle in the centre of each bowl. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on each tentacle and add a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with chopped parsley and celery leaves.

 

 

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