New season Picual extra virgin olive oil is my choice here as it carries a nice amount of pepperiness and a delightfully fresh green tomato vine-like flavour to finish. The oil's robustness stands up to the spice of the cayenne pepper and the ocean saltiness of the octopus.
- 230 ml Picual new season olive oil
- 3 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 7 cloves garlic, lightly bashed
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 130 g Spanish green olives
- 3 medium Dutch cream potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
- 800 g octopus hands, cut into individual tentacles and washed
- river salt and white pepper
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Pour the Picual oil into a baking dish approximately 26 cm x 36 cm and place over a gentle heat on your stove top. Once the oil starts to warm, add in the cayenne pepper, cinnamon and garlic. Stir this around gently for about 3 minutes by which time you will see it sizzling and be able to smell all the aromas releasing.
Add the thyme, olives, octopus and some seasoning, give it all a good stir to coat in the oil and turn the heat to high. Give your octopus a few minutes and allow it to fry a little, making sure you turn it once or twice. Add in the potatoes, combine and then cover the dish with a large piece of baking paper before sealing the top of the baking tray with foil. Place in a preheated oven at 150ºC.
Cook it for an hour before testing the octopus using a sharp knife tip. It should go into the largest piece easily with little to no resistance, if it’s not quite there yet, cook for another 10–15 minutes.
Remove baking tray from the oven and then turn the oven up to 200ºC. Discard the foil, remove the baking paper and you will find your octopus and potatoes mostly submerged in a sea of oil. Once your oven has gotten nice and hot again, slip the tray back in for another 15 minutes sot everything becomes a little bit toasty and crispy.
• New season oils are like wines and will vary according to season, where they are grown and their age. Keep this in mind when choosing your oil or a substitute and always let your own idea about flavour guide you.
• You want a new season oil that's not too bitter, but still possesses a strong peppery flavour.
• If you can’t find Dutch Cream potatoes substitute with another waxy variety.
• The octopus I like to use is a frozen product from Western Australia that is sustainable and easy to use.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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