What If You Could Give Mario Batali a Shopping List?

November  5, 2015

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:

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Crispy Octopus with Cavolo Nero and Hazelnuts

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

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What ingredients would you like to see Mario turn into a meal? Tell us in the comments below!

Video by Kate Previte

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I eat everything.

1 Comment

Rick November 6, 2015
Aw come on, the cork trick may be traditional but it is widely discredited and has no basis in either science or practical cooking. My tip would be to freeze the octopus to break down it's fibers, or cook very long and slow in a wine and tomato (I.e. acidic) sauce. Alternatively, eaten fresh and very finely sliced you should have no problem.

As for Tuscan kale, cook it however you want to cook it. The Tuscan people have no monopoly over how to eat it!