Slow-braised octopus with fennel purée

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 people

  • 700 gm Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 each celery stalks, carrots and baby fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
  • onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, coarsely chopped
  • 1 parsnip, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ celeriac, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic heads, halved
  • 2 sprigs each dill, basil and thyme
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 kg octopus tentacles
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved on a mandolin, fronds reserved
  •  
  • Fennel purée
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 fennel bulbs, coarsely chopped
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 150 ml vegetable stock
  • 50 gm softened butter
  •  
  • Tomato and olive salad
  • 30 ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 500 gm (about 1 punnet each) red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 50 gm pitted green olives
  • 20 gm capers, finely chopped
  • 20 gm caperberries, thinly sliced
  • ½ garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, finely chopped
  • 60 ml dry white wine
  • 25 ml red wine vinegar
01   Combine tomato, vegetables, garlic and herbs in a stockpot with 4 litres water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, blanch tentacles (1 minute). Refresh, drain, wipe with absorbent paper then add to stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (4-5 hours). Set aside in liquid, keep warm.
02   Meanwhile, for fennel purée, tie fennel seeds in muslin. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add fennel, onion and fennel seeds, stir occasionally until vegetables are tender (5-7 minutes). Add stock, cover, stir occasionally until vegetables are very tender (4-6 minutes), transfer to a blender, blend until smooth. Pass through a sieve, add butter, season to taste.
03   For tomato and olive salad, heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add tomatoes, olives, capers, caperberries, garlic and chilli and stir occasionally until tomatoes soften (8-10 minutes). Deglaze with wine and vinegar, season to taste.
04   Remove octopus from liquid, slice thickly. Serve with fennel purée, tomato and olive salad, shaved fennel and fennel fronds.
This recipe is from the May 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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