the appetizer:

Italian home cooking is made easy with A Tavola! by Gianni Scappin and Vincenzo Lauria, with recipes like Tigella Bread; Rissole (Stuffed Crispy "Ravioli" Snacks); and Polipo Affogato con Patate Gialle (Drowned Octopus with Yellow Potatoes).



Polipo Affogato con Patate Gialle
(Drowned Octopus with Yellow Potatoes)

Serves 4



If your octopus is very fresh, it will be naturally salty, so make sure you adjust the seasoning accordingly. There is a belief among fishermen along the Riviera in Italy that when you catch an octopus, you should kill it against the cliffs, then rub its tentacles hard on the rocks to give it a tender texture when it cooks. Some cooks believe that you should put a couple of corks in the cooking water to tenderize the octopus. Yet another belief is that, before you drop the octopus into hot water, you should let it "feel" the water with its tentacles first, until they start to curl up, then release it into the water. I can't say if any of this could be scientifically proven, but tradition is very hard to change.

  • 4 lb octopus, defrosted if frozen
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh or dried hot red chile (see note)
  • 22 oz peeled San Marzano tomatoes and their juices
  • 1-1/2 cups dry wine, red or white
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt, as needed
  • 2-1/2 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large cubes

1. Wash the octopus and place it in a tall, narrow casserole (preferably made of terracotta, but if not, use whatever tall narrow pot you have available) with the garlic, hot pepper, tomatoes, wine, olive oil, parsley, and a pinch of salt to taste.

2. Cover the casserole tightly, and let the octopus cook very, very slowly over low heat, for about 2 hours total. Half an hour before you are ready to remove the octopus from the heat, add the potatoes, making sure there is enough liquid in the casserole to cover them. Add some water if necessary. Serve the octopus with the potatoes in the same casserole you cook it in.

Recipe Notes

Many dishes in Italian cooking require a hot chile, whether green or red. If you con find fresh small red chiles, just make a small slit in the side of the chile before you place it in the pot, you can leave the chile in for your more adventurous guests to try. If you can't find fresh red chiles, try small dried chiles such as a Thai bird. And failing that, replace the chile called for here with 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, the kind that you can sprinkle on your pizza at any self-respecting pizzeria. This recipe is good served cold or at room temperature. It also works as on appetizer.

Wine Suggestion

White: Greco di Tufo
Red: Mogliocco

  • from:
    A Tavola!
    Recipes and Reflections on Traditional Italian Home Cooking
  • by Gianni Scappin and Vincenzo Lauria
  • Lebhar-Friedman 2009
  • $29.95; hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0867309288
  • ISBN: 978-0-86730-928-7
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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A Tavola!


This page created October 2009

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