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The Most Adventurous Thing I’ve Ever Cooked {Provencal Braised Octopus Recipe}

This dinner looks pretty delicious, right? It was actually the most adventurous thing I’ve ever cooked!


Last week I received a text from my fiance that there was no need to go to the grocery because he’d already been shopping at Whole Foods. I arrived home to a fridge that looked like it had been stocked for the show Chopped. It included a yucca, a daikon radish, osso buco and an octopus. Yes, an octopus. The yucca, daikon radish and osso buco I could get on board with…but a whole octopus? Seriously?


His response was that we like to order it in restaurants so why not try it at home? I can’t say I was super thrilled about cooking an octopus but there was also no way I was letting it go to waste. I spent the better part of a day thinking about how I could cook it and researching recipes. I didn’t find much online that really excited me so I turned to The Gourmet Cookbook, which never steers me wrong. Their recipe for Provencal Braised Octopus looked great so I decided to take the plunge (ha) and give it a try.


Step one was to simmer the octopus in a large pot with aromatics for about an hour and a half.


This is what it looked like at the end of simmering.


Step two was to rub the outer purple coating off of the octopus. I delegated that task to the one who brought the octopus home!


Here it is after the coating was removed.


Next I sliced it into rings to prepare it to go into the sauce.


The octopus braised in a mixture of petit diced tomatoes, kalamata olives, herbs, garlic, onions and red pepper flakes for another hour or so.


And then I served it over zucchini noodles and topped it with Parmesan.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was really going to be able to eat it after going through the prep and cooking process but it was actually a really, really delicious dish. The octopus was very tender and the tomato sauce was flavorful. The olives seemed like a strange addition but the saltiness of them was the thing that brought the whole dish together.

Would I make it again? Yes, although I did instruct my fiance that he must clear all future octopus purchases with me before bringing another one home! This is a once every couple of years kind of dish.

What I loved about this whole experience was that it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and gave me a lot of confidence about my skills in the kitchen. This was the most adventurous thing I’ve ever cooked and I was excited when it turned out so well.

Two questions…

1) Would you cook octopus at home? (Or have you!?)

2) What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever cooked?

And for those who might want to try this at home…the recipe! It’s not posted online, only in the cookbook so here she is…

Provencal Braised Octopus
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook with a few modifications)


1 (2-lb) frozen cleaned octopus, thawed, or one fresh
2 medium onions, 1 quartered, 1 finely diced
4 garlic cloves, 2 left whole and 2 minced
3 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon finely minced thyme
3 fresh parsley sprigs
5 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (16-0z) can petite diced or crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted black or kalamata olives, diced
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock


Put octopus in a large pot and add enough water to cover by two inches. Add quartered onion, whole garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, parsley sprigs and peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer gently, partially covered, until octopus is tender when pierced with a fork and purple outer layer rubs off easily, about 1-1.5 hours.

Drain octopus and transfer to a bowl of cold water to cool. Rub off purple outer coating, skin and fatty layer from octopus, leaving suckers intact, if desired. (We did…because…why not?) Cut tentacles from octopus if it still has the head and discard head. (I know, luckily mine did not still have the head).  Cut tentacles into 1 inch rings.

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and add onion and minced garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add wine, tomatoes with juices, octopus, olives, chopped thyme, salt and chilies to the pot. Partially cover and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until octopus is very tender and sauce has thickened, 45-60 minutes. During this time I added the cup of chicken broth because the sauce was getting to thick and I cooked it for over an hour. You may or may not need to use it (or may not need all of it).

Serve octopus over rice, zucchini noodles, pasta or whatever else sounds good. Garnish with more parsley and parmesan cheese if desired.

Yield: 2-3 servings. Double it if you’re feeding a crowd.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Paula May 21, 2015, 3:18 pm

    I respect and admire your SO’s sense of adventure (and yours!). I also enjoy eating (well-prepared) octopus in restaurants. The previous statements notwithstanding, I would probably lose my lady-shit if my husband put an octopus in our refrigerator. Some foods in my life are strictly relegated to the “only if I don’t have to see them before they are in my meal” category, and I think octopus fits in there for me. But the end result looks marvy!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 9:52 pm

      Ha! Thank you! That’s why I made him rub off the coating.

  • jen May 21, 2015, 3:43 pm

    my family is korean, and all kinds of seafood are fair game in korean cuisine, so i grew up with my mom making octopus and squid–in stews/soups/braises, deep-fried tempura-style, stir-fried, etc., but i’ve never tried making it on my own, in my grown-up life!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 9:55 pm

      That sounds incredible! I’ll have to try a different way of prepping it next time I decide to get this adventurous again.

  • Jojo @ Run Fast Eat Lots May 21, 2015, 4:05 pm

    I like eating octopus, but I’ve never prepared it before. I think that’s so funny that your fiance just decided to buy one. I tend to buy the SAME EXACT grocery items week after week, so it’s fun to throw in something different every once in a while.

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 9:56 pm

      He frequently brings home new things to try and challenges me to make something with them. It’s a lot of fun and such a good way to change things up!

  • Sarah May 21, 2015, 4:23 pm

    I don’t consider myself a picky eater, but I also don’t consider myself an adventurous eater, (and this is going to sound bad) but I kind of dry heaved my way through this post. Definitely triggered my gag reflex. 😉
    I have never eaten octopus (and I guess I probably never will, given my reaction when I imagined doing so). Loved this post! (Really!) 😉

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 9:57 pm

      Ha! It’s definitely not for everyone, but it was fun to give it a try.

  • Julie May 21, 2015, 5:00 pm

    When you hinted about this in a previous post, I had a feeling it was going to be octopus! I’ve never had it before & can’t say that I’ve ever even been intrigued. (I’m not a super adventurous eater.) Kudos to you for going for it, tho! I know how rewarding it feels to master something that previously intimidated you. I must say that after seeing that 1st pic of it lying in the wrapping on your kitchen counter, I think I would’ve relegated it to the garbage. Ewww!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 9:59 pm

      That’s why I made my fiancé help with some of the prep, but I couldn’t let it go to waste!

  • kristin | W [H] A T C H May 21, 2015, 5:19 pm

    making bold moves in the kitchen! i like it.

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 10:00 pm

      Thanks! It was certainly a challenge but fun to give it a try!

  • Cassie Tran May 21, 2015, 6:54 pm

    I used to be the pickiest eater ever and I’m so glad that I’ve broadened my palette! It’s how I became healthy!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 10:07 pm

      Good!! This definitely challenged me to broaden my culinary repertoire.

  • Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona May 21, 2015, 7:19 pm

    I’m not much of a seafood eater, so I’ve only had octopus once before. I was expecting it to be worse, but it actually wasn’t too bad.

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 10:05 pm

      I was happy how this turned out. It was surprisingly good!

  • Sara @ Oats & Rows May 21, 2015, 7:44 pm

    That looks delicious! I have only had octopus once in my life…if I am every feeling super adventurous in the kitchen, I’ll be sure to make my way back to this recipe!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 21, 2015, 10:02 pm

      I think it’s really good if it’s done well! Let me know if you decide to try it.

  • Michelle May 22, 2015, 4:50 am

    Growing up, I was an extremely picky eater. So, early in 20s is when I would say that I became ‘adventurous’ which includes trying peanut butter and many, many vegetables for the first time! These foods, and many others, were around me growing up but I had a really bad time with texture and would only eat very specific things. Now in my 30s, I eat pretty much anything except for seafood as, I found out that I really loved what I have tried but that I have an intolerance to that which I’ve tried and so I’m not attempting that again, unfortunately!!
    I do love watching others eat things which I cannot though, which is kind of weird, and so I loved this post – the weirder the better!!

    • Jen DeCurtins May 22, 2015, 10:44 pm

      I seriously don’t know what I would do without peanut butter in my life. So crazy!!

  • Caitlin May 22, 2015, 11:20 am

    Ah, you’re brave! I love ordering octopus out but know I would never cook it at home. I also don’t think I’d trust it if someone else made it, something about seafood makes me extra wary of food poisoning!

  • tara May 22, 2015, 1:17 pm

    not a seafood lover…adventurous for me is fish ! i do like to step out of my cooking comfort zone now and then but its more for things like trying to make stuffed cabbage and replicate my grandmas recipe. i’m gluten free so any gf baking is adventurous when compared with traditional baking…u never know if you will get something wonderful or a brick : )

    • Jen DeCurtins May 22, 2015, 10:45 pm

      GF baking can be so tricky!!

  • muffintopacres May 24, 2015, 10:32 pm

    I’m sorry it reminds me too much of scenes from the Alien franchise 🙂
    I’m curious how it works that you simmer for 1.5 hours and then rub off the coating?? Is the simmering more to loosen the outer coating rather than have it absorb flavor?

    • Jen May 26, 2015, 5:15 pm

      I think it’s to loosen it. There was no way to remove it prior to it cooking for a while. I left that part to the boy though because there was NO WAY I was going to get that hands on with the octopus!

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