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Author Notes: This is one of my favorite ways to cook octopus. First boiled in water, without salt and adding a bay leaf, then moving it to the oven, where it cooks for a few minutes seasoned with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. —Paula | my common table
For the baked octopus
- 1 octopus (approximately 1,5 kg)
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley, to serve
For the creamy polenta
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup coarse cornmeal
- Sea salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- You can buy the octopus fresh or frozen. If you choose the former freeze it first, before cooking, this way it will be easier to get a tender octopus. So the first thing to do is to thaw the octopus and the best way to do that is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Put a large pot with water and a bay leaf over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, hold the octopus by the head and dip it for 10 seconds. Repeat this operation two more times. It will help to keep the skin and curl the legs’ ends, which is prettier. Let it cook for 40 minutes. This time is indicative and depends on the size of the octopus that you are cooking, which can be bigger or smaller than this one. To check if the octopus is cooked, prick with a fork in the thickest part of the leg (close to the head), it should enter without resistance.
- Preheat the oven to 180º C.
- Start making the polenta while the octopus is cooking. Put the water in a saucepan over high heat. Add the cornmeal while stirring (the water doesn’t need to be boiling). Let it cook, stirring frequently. Once the polenta begins to thicken and “spit”, lower the heat. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, being careful not to let it stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When the octopus is cooked, take it from the water and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with the sliced garlic, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Once the polenta is ready, season with salt and add the butter. If the polenta is too dry or start to set, add some water and stir vigorously with a whisk to incorporate well and break some lumps that may arise.
- Take the octopus from the oven, split the legs and the head and serve immediately with the polenta and chopped parsley.