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Octopus Stew (Polvo Guisado) the right one


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  • Day 1
  • 2 1/2 pounds octopus fresh or thawed eyes and mouth (hard center beak) removed
  • 1 cup white or red wine
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground white or black pepper or to taste
  • 4 to 5 tbsp crushed red pepper paste (pimenta moida)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Day 2
  • 1/2 cup or olive oil as needed
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 heads garlic, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
  • big handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • cornstarch slurry(1 tbsp cornstarch with 2 tbsp water)



Step 1

"Purple stew" is what someone called this when they inquired about an octopus recipe popular with the Portuguese. The color purple comes in to play when cooks use red wine in the dish instead of white. It is a matter of preference.

Day 1
Cut octopus into large pieces, about 2-inches long, and place in a bowl. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the remaining ingredients. Turn to coat evenly, cover and chill overnight. (You will notice that I am not instructing you to beat the octopus with a stick to tenderize it. Some Portuguese cooks still do this and you can if you wish.)

Day 2
Reserving the marinade, transfer octopus to another separate bowl
Pour just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. Fry the onions until golden. There should be a brown caramelized coating on the bottom of the skillet (called a fond by professionals). Add the garlic and parsley.
When the garlic is aromatic,toss in the octopus. When it starts to take on some color, recover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let it sweat for 30 minutes. It will release a lot of water.
Add the potatoes and continue to cook on medium-low for another 30 min. Test the fattest piece. If it is still chewy or tough, let it cook some more (around but not usually over 30 min.)
Anytime the liquid looks like it is evaporating, add the reserved marinade in small amounts. Thicken the liquid with a cornstarch slurry. If you overcook it, it will shrink to almost nothing but if you don't cook it enough it will be tough.


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