What if you could give Mario Batali a shopping list? What ingredients would you have him buy? Something from the Northwest? Something Italian? For the premiere of Mario's new mini-series Taking Requests, one woman chose garlic, pepperoncini, hazenuts, and baby octopi, which Mario, a member of The52, turned into an antipasto dish.
After shopping for his ingredients, Mario heads home to make a Crispy Octopus with Cavolo Nero and Hazelnuts, proving that with a little creativity, it's possible to make any dish out of nearly any variety of good ingredients. While making what he refers to as a "crispy, delicious-y, succulent, magnificent expression of the Mediterranean deliciousness," Mario shares a number of pieces of advice we couldn't help but jot down:
- Always put a cork in the water when poaching octopus (this makes it more tender).
- Don't blanch Tuscan kale first, because it's not how they cook it in Tuscany.
- Seasoning is one of the keys to successful cooking.
- Always taste things along the way to make sure they're perfectly cooked and seasoned.
Watch the video above for his tips, then view the recipe below to make it yourself:
2 pounds baby octopus, raw and thawed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 to 4 pieces garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bunch cavolo nero, roughly chopped
2 fresh peperoncino
2 Thai bird chilis
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of hazelnuts, toasted and half hazelnuts chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 blood oranges, zested then segmented
What ingredients would you like to see Mario turn into a meal? Tell us in the comments below!
Video by Kate Previte