ITALIAN OCTOPUS STEW (polpo alla luciana)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
The Italian cuisine is famous thanks to several cooks whose name has been lost over the centuries; the author of the recipe of Luciana octopus stew (in Italian: “polpo alla Luciana”) is one of them. For the uninitiated, I must clarify one thing: the author of this recipe is not named Luciana! Who invented this tasty recipe is unknown, but the place where it was created is well-known. The Luciana octopus is so named because of the ancient fishing district of Santa Lucia, in Naples. On the sea in front of Santa Lucia the octopuses were caught dipping terracotta amphorae into the water, among the rocks overnight, then were simmered with tomatoes and Gaeta olives in a crock pot covered and wrapped in a wet cloth. The Luciana octopus is served with croutons but, to make a complete Italian meal, is common season spaghetti with the sauce of the octopus as first course and serve the octopus as second course.
  • 2.5 lb (1,1 kg) octopus
  • 1 lb (450 gr) tomato pulp
  • ¾ lb (340 gr) cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salted capers
  • 1 fresh chili pepper (or ½ tsp ground chili pepper)
  • 30 black olives (best if Gaeta olives)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 little bunch of fresh parsley
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. How to clean the octopusIf the octopus is not previously frozen, beat it with a meat mallet o place o into the freezer for a couple of hours to soften the fibers. To clean the octopus, cut and discard the eyes and the beak, pass it under running water and dry with paper towels.
  2. First stepsWash the salted capers under running water then mince them coarsely (will be used instead of salt throughout the recipe). Now, wash and cut the cherry tomatoes in half, then peel and crush the cloves of garlic discarding the bud inside them. Finally, wash the parsley and form a bunch tied with kitchen string.
  3. Octopus and wineIn a at least 5 quarter pot, sauté the garlic and the chili pepper in olive oil. When the garlic is golden, and leave it from the pot and conserve aside, then add the octopus and cook for a few minutes. Now, add the white wine and continue cooking on high heat to evaporate the alcohol.
  4. Luciana octopus stewWhen the alcohol has evaporated, add the cherry tomatoes, the tomato pulp, the bunch of parsley tied, the chopped capers, the olives and the garlic previously sauteed. Mix the ingredients then set the heat to low and close the pot as described in the next section!
  5. How to close the potOriginally the Luciani fishermen use to cook the octopus in pots covered and wrapped in a wet cloth.In this case I recommend to seal the pot in the following way:- Cut a sheet of parchment paper a bit 'bigger than the pot and dampen slightly.- Lay the sheet on the pot to cover it and tie with kitchen twine as shown in the photo below.- Cut the excess paper and twine in order not to burn them with fire stove.- Cover the pan with a lid with no orifices.With every passing minute the sheet of parchment paper will swell slightly under the cover. Always keep the heat to low and not raise the lid until the end of cooking. For cooking times calculated 25 minutes for each pound of octopus.
  6. FinishingPast the cooking time, remove the sheet of parchment paper carefully so as not to burn yourself with the steam. Remove the octopus from the cooking liquid and lay it on a cutting board. Meanwhile, discard the bunch of parsley and reduce the cooking liquid over medium heat until it has reduced by about half. When the octopus has reached a temperature "manageable" cut the tentacles and eliminate the skin with your fingers keeping the suction cups (if cooking has been corrected, the skin will come off easily). Discard the skin of the head as well and cut the head into rounds. Palce all pieces of the octopus in a serving dish with the sauce reduced. Sprinkle the dish with a handful of fresh minced parsley and serve hot, but not too much with croutons and a glass of good white wine!
  7. Traditional Italian octopus stew (polpo alla luciana)
Recipe by philosokitchen at