This is actually a recipe for hobotnica pod pekom (octopus “under the bell”), but since I don’t have an outdoor space or a “peka” at the moment, the oven is a nice alternative. As I wrote for an Al Jazeera America “World Cup of Food” feature back during the 2014 World Cup, pod pekom is a very old and traditional style of slow cooking under a cast-iron or terra cotta lid covered in coal embers. There are electric ones you can buy, but I just like the idea of having a real one and using the oven when cooking indoors.
- about 500 grams of octopus, cleaned (I prefer to use baby and to buy them already cleaned, but there are many great videos on youtube that show you how to do it yourself)
- 750 grams of potatoes, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 head of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup of olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- salt + pepper
Preheat oven to 210°C. If using adult octopus, remove the skin and heads, then cut the tentacles into a few pieces. I usually use baby octopus that come cleaned, but if they aren’t do so well.
Add the potatoes, onions, carrots, octopus and garlic into a large bowl. Toss with rosemary, parsley, salt and pepper, then transfer to a baking dish. Add the oil and cover tightly with foil and place into the oven.
Bake for 35 minutes, then add the wine. Cover tightly again and cook for a further 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook until everything is tender and the octopus are curling (if using baby) and a little charred (about an additional 15 minutes).