Recipes Main Courses Seafood Pulpo Asado with Roasted Potatoes and Coriander Dressing

Pulpo Asado with Roasted Potatoes and Coriander Dressing

Prep Time: 180 minutes
Cook Time: 300 minutes
Servings: 4

Eric Werner and Mya Henry, authors of the cookbook Hartwood, which tells the story of their restaurant in Tulum, Mexico, explain, “Here’s the secret about octopus: the more times you cook it, the better it is. Everything in this dish gets cooked two ways for extra levels of crispness, reflecting how we move from wood-burning oven to grill at Hartwood.” At their restaurant they use only the tentacles of the octopus for this dish, because they feel the meaty tentacles are best suited for the grill, but you can use the whole octopus if you like. The recipe involves a lot of steps, and it makes more roasted onion oil, roasted chile oil and roasted garlic than you will need, but you’ll find that these components add many layers of flavor to the dish and the leftovers have nearly endless uses in the kitchen. The roasted garlic oil, for example, they use in dressings and sauces and to flavor the leafy greens that they serve with meat dishes at Hartwood.

Ingredients:

For the roasted chile oil:

  • 6 dried cascabel chiles (about 1 oz./30 g)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 fresh oregano sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) olive oil


For the roasted garlic oil and roasted garlic:

  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 fresh oregano sprig
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) olive oil


For the roasted onion oil and burnt onions:

  • 2 medium or 2 1/2 small white onions, quartered
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For the pickled onions (optional):

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced with a mandoline or a sharp knife
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./500 ml) fresh lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) sugar
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt


For the octopus:

  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) octopus tentacles
  • 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) Roasted Chile Oil
  • 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) Roasted Garlic Oil


For the vegetables:

  • 16 new potatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) Roasted Onion Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 xctatic chiles or 2 to 3 habanero chiles, coarsely chopped
  • 2 white onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) Roasted Chile Oil
  • 1 Tbs. mashed Roasted Garlic


For the coriander dressing:

  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds, toasted until fragrant and finely ground
  • 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp. mashed Roasted Garlic
  • 1/2 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


For assembling:

  • 1 bunch mustard greens, sliced into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
  • 2 limes, halved

Directions:

To make the roasted chile oil:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

Combine the chiles, onion, thyme and oregano sprigs, and bay leaf in a small, deep pan. Pour in enough olive oil to cover. Cover the pan with foil and roast in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Let cool.

Strain the oil into a glass jar; discard the solids. Cover and keep in a cool, dry place (it will last longer in the fridge; just be sure to take it out about an hour before cooking to liquefy). Makes about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) roasted chile oil.

To make the roasted garlic oil and roasted garlic:

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

Slice off the top 1/2 inch (12 mm) of each garlic head so that most of the cloves are exposed. Put the garlic in a small, deep pan with the thyme and oregano sprigs and add enough olive oil so that the heads are just above the surface. Cover with parchment paper, then tightly cover the pan with foil. Roast until the garlic is soft, about 45 minutes; you should be able to easily pierce the garlic with a paring knife. Remove the parchment and foil and roast for 5 more minutes to brown the garlic a bit. Let cool.

Strain the oil into a glass jar; set the garlic aside. Cover the oil and keep in a cool, dark place (the oil will last longer if you refrigerate it; just be sure to take it out about an hour before cooking to liquefy).

Put the garlic heads in a bowl to collect the oil. Then separate the cloves and squeeze the pulp into a pint jar. Discard the papery skin and herbs. Strain the oil that collected in the bowl and use to cover the garlic; add more of the garlic oil if necessary to cover it. Cover and refrigerate; the roasted garlic will keep for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) roasted garlic oil plus roasted garlic.

To make the roasted onion oil and burnt onions:

Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).

Put the onions in a small, deep pan and add enough olive oil so that just about 1/2 inch (12 mm) of the tops of the onions is exposed. (You want to crowd the pan with the onions so that the exposed tops will unfurl and blacken in the oven.) Season with the salt and pepper. Roast until the tops of the onions are black, about 45 minutes; if necessary, turn on the broiler for the last 5 minutes to char the onions. Let cool.

Strain the oil into a glass jar; reserve the onions. Cover the oil and keep in a cool, dry place (it will last longer in the fridge; just take it out about an hour before cooking to liquefy). Keep the onions covered and refrigerated. Makes about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) roasted onion oil plus burnt onions.

To make the pickled options (optional):

In a 1-pint (500-ml) jar, combine the red onion, vinegar, lime juice, sugar and salt and shake to combine. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 1 week before using, shaking the jar occasionally to combine.

To prepare the octopus:

Fill a large pot with water, season generously with salt, add the thyme and oregano sprigs, and bring to a boil. While the water heats, pound the octopus tentacles with a blunt, heavy object for a minute or so to tenderize them (a small cast-iron skillet would work).

Add the octopus tentacles to the boiling water and boil for about 45 minutes, or until they are tender and a toothpick can be easily inserted into the flesh. Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Once the octopus tentacles have cooled completely, drain, seal in a plastic bag and refrigerate. (This gives the meat a chance to firm up before you grill it.)

To prepare the vegetables:

Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C).

Put the potatoes in a large cast-iron skillet with 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the roasted onion oil and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Roast until the potatoes are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl; set the skillet aside for the moment. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C).

Put the chiles and white onions in the hot skillet, add the chile oil and roasted garlic, and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss again. Roast for 30 minutes, or until crisped and tender. Remove from the heat and set aside in the skillet.

To make the coriander dressing:

While the vegetables are roasting, in a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

To finish:

Prepare a hot fire in a grill. Preheat a broiler.

Add the roast potatoes to the skillet with the chiles and onions and toss with the remaining 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) roasted onion oil. Broil until the vegetables are very crispy, 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Toss the octopus tentacles with the 6 Tbs. roasted chile oil and the 6 Tbs. roasted garlic oil. Oil the grill grate, then grill the octopus tentacles on one side until crispy, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side.

To serve, toss the mustard greens with 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) of the coriander dressing and arrange on 4 serving plates. Pile the roasted potatoes, chiles and onions on the greens. Lightly coat the octopus with the remaining coriander dressing and place atop the vegetables. Garnish each plate with half a lime and the pickled red onions, if using. Serves 4.

Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015.