2 pounds baby octopus, raw and thawed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2-4 pieces garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bunch cavolo nero, roughly chopped
2 fresh peperoncino
2 Thai bird chilis
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup of hazelnuts, toasted and half hazelnuts chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley
2 blood oranges, zested then segmented
Bring 4 quarts water to boil, add 1 wine cork and lower heat to low simmer. Gently add octopus and cook at a simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse and allow to cool.
In a 14-inch saute pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and add garlic and cavolo nero. Continue to move the cavolo nero around with tongs until wilted and deep golden brown. Add octopus water to pan to slow down cooking process if need be. Season with salt.
Make a gastrique by chopping two fresh peperoncino and adding two whole Thai bird chilis to a small sauté pan along with ¼ cup of sugar. Shake the combination around the pan while on heat. It will begin to caramelize. Continue to toss around, then add equal parts red wine vinegar. Allow to bubble for a minute or so until reduced slightly to make a tart, slightly thickened syrup. Once consistency is correct, add chopped hazelnuts. Remove from heat when hazelnuts are toasted. Add roughly chopped parsley and stir in extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
Once octopus has slightly cooled, slice in half and remove the mouth piece from the center (looks almost like an eyeball). Add octopus halves to a heated pan drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, cut side down. Toss in whole hazelnuts. Cook until octopus is crispy and hazelnuts are toasted.
Plate warm cavolo nero, top with blood orange supremes. Add left over juice from bowl of supremes to the gastrique. Add blood orange zest to cavolo nero. Place crispy octopus on top of pile and add the gastrique (be sure to remove whole Thai bird chilis!).
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Crispy Octopus with Hazelnuts
Mario cooks a crispy octopus appetizer with hazelnuts and cavolo nero, based on ingredients suggested by Marie-Chantale from Ottawa. “Taking Requests” brings Mario’s culinary wizardry to the foods you love. Let Mario know what your four favorite ingredients are and he might whip up a custom recipe just for you!!
Thanks to our delicious partners at Eataly for making Taking Requests possible and for always providing the best ingredients!
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