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Osteria: Hearty Italian Fare from Rick Tramonto's Kitchen
by Rick Tramonto & Mary Goodbody

Tagliatelle con Polipo "Puttanesca"
(Tagliatelle with Octopus Puttanesca)

I open this chapter with a recipe that some might find exotic: pasta with octopus. I am a fan of the creature from the briny deep, and once we persuade our customers to try octopus, they are hooked. I suspect you will be, too. The trick is to buy high-quality octopus from a fishmonger you trust and cook it slowly, as described here, so that it becomes as tender as can be. It goes extremely well with other seafood, too.
Serves 4


    ~ 5 pounds baby octopus
    ~ ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    ~ 1 white onion, sliced
    ~ 1 fennel bulb, sliced
    ~ 2 cups pitted black Ligurian olives
    ~ 1 cup drained capers, rinsed
    ~ 1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
    ~ 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
    ~ 1 sprig fresh oregano
    ~ One 750-ml bottle red wine
    ~ One 14-ounce can tomatoes, drained
    ~ ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    ~ 1 anchovy fillet
    ~ 1½ tablespoons kosher salt

    ~ 1 pound tagliatelle

    ~ 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    ~ 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    ~ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    ~ ½ cap chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    ~ ½ cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. To prepare the octopus sauce, clean the
octopuses by removing and discarding the
beaks and the heads. You need to make only
one cut to separate these from the legs.

3. In a large ovenproof saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, fennel, olives, capers, red pepper, dried oregano, and oregano sprig. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes, or just until the onion softens.

4. Add the wine and boil over high heat for about 6 minutes, or until reduced by half.

5. Add the octopus, tomatoes, vinegar, anchovy, and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Cover the pan with parchment paper, transfer to the oven, and cook for 1 to 1½ hours, until the octopus is tender.

6. Allow the octopus to cool in the sauce. Remove the octopus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Set the octopus aside and reserve the sauce.

7. To prepare the tagliatelle, cook the pasta according to the package instructions until firm but not yet al dente. Drain.

8. Meanwhile, heat the octopus and sauce over medium-high heat. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and cook for a few minutes until al dente. Add the butter and olive oil and stir until incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and basil, divide evenly among 4 plates, and serve.

The Sommelier Recommends
This zesty, full-flavored pasta sings with a likewise zesty, full-flavored red from Calabria. The Gaglioppo and Maglioppo grapes make spicy, mouth-filling reds, and we love the Terre di Balbia label.


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