Charred octopus from Dell'Anima

June 20, 2008 12:13:04 PM PDT
In this edition of Neighborhood Eats, we're traveling to Italy without ever leaving Manhattan. Picture yourself on an old, windy street in an Italian village, with grandma cooking in the kitchen. Now, add a young, hip vibe and you'll end up with Dell'Anima. It's located at 38 Eighth Avenue at the corner of Jane Street.

Dell'Anima is in the chic West Village. It offers a warm and cozy feeling, tapping into the restaurant's name, which means of the soul.

And you might find yourself befriending Joe Campanale. He's an owner and the sommelier. Sit at the counter and you're practically dining with chef Gabe Thomson. You may even learn how to make octopus.

But cooked wrong, it can turn chewy or hollow.

Thomson starts by simmering the raw octopus in water and wine. That causes it to shrink. It's finished off in a cast-iron skillet for a charred flavor.

Meanwhile, chorizo, lemon rind, rice beans and some greens are sauteed together. The octopus is plated on top.

It is made fresh daily, which is another reason there are so many regulars.

Recipe for Charred Octopus with Rice Beans, Chorizo and Chicories:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Octopus, braised (to braise, see recipe below)
  • Salt
  • 3 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chorizo, julienned
  • 1 Tbs. Lemon zest, julienned
  • 1 tsp. Oregano, fresh
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • Rice Beans, cooked (see recipe below)
  • 1 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. assorted chicories torn into bite-sized pieces: radicchio, endive, frisee

    To reheat the octopus, heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Season the octopus with salt and place in the cast iron skillet. Use another pan to weigh the octopus down on the skillet. When charred on the outside, remove from the pan.

    Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat in a saute pan. Add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minute to render the sausage. Place the lemon zest, oregano, and chili flakes in the pan. Saute for a few minutes. Add the rice beans and saute until the rice beans are warm. Toss with parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add chicories to the bean mixture and stir until slightly warmed.

    To serve, place bean mixture in a bowl. Top with octopus. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

    Braised Octopus

    Ingredients:

  • 2 Octopus
  • 1 c. carrots, large dice
  • 2 c. onions, large dice
  • 1 c. fennel, large dice
  • 1 c. celery, large dice
  • 1 ea. Lemon, quartered
  • 2 ea. Bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 ea. Garlic cloves
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine
  • Salt
  • 3 c. Water

    Place all of the ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat so that the liquid remains just under a simmer. Slowly cook the octopus until tender, approximately 2 hours. To test for doneness, pull the bottom of the legs from the body. The meat should feel slightly tender, but not hollow or squishy. When ready, remove the octopus from the liquid and let cool at room temperature until slightly warm. With your hands, peel the skin off of the octopus tentacles and discard the exterior membrane. Store cooked octopus in the refrigerator. To serve, heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Season the octopus with salt and place in the cast iron skillet. Use another pan to weigh the octopus down on the skillet. When charred on the outside, remove from the pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

    Rice Beans

    Ingredients:

  • 2 c. rice beans
  • 1 ea carrot, cut in half
  • 1 ea celery stalk, cut in half
  • 1 ea onion, quartered
  • 4 ea. Thyme sprigs
  • 2 ea. Bay leaves
  • 3 ea. Garlic cloves
  • Water
  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

    Cover rice beans with water and soak overnight. Drain the beans and discard the water. Place the beans, carrot, celery, onion, thyme, bay leaves and garlic cloves in a large pot. Cover generously with water (about 2" above the beans) and add the olive oil. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat so that the cooking liquid is just under a simmer. Cook until tender. Remove from the heat and add salt to taste. Let the beans cool in the liquid. When cool, drain the beans and discard the vegetables.


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