"We love using local produce, and Fremantle octopus is amazing for this dish," says Guy Grossi. "This is inspired by tiella di Gaeta, a Roman pie. It looks impressive, too, so it's a great one for dinner parties." Start a day ahead to prepare the capers and bread.
- ¼ small loaf stale sourdough, crusts removed, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen (overnight)
- 25 gm (about ¼ cup) capers in salt, soaked overnight in cold water
- Olive oil, for shallow-frying, plus extra for drizzling
- Finely chopped semi-dried olives (see note), to serve
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 kg octopus tentacles (see note)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 250 ml dry white wine
- 100 ml olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 300 gm ripe tomatoes, diced
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- 150 gm aeta olives pitted and halved (see note)
- ¼ cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1For braised octopus, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion and fennel and stir until tender (8-10 minutes). Add octopus, peppercorns and bay leaves and fry, turning occasionally, until golden (5 minutes). Deglaze pan with wine, add enough water to just cover, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid, and simmer until octopus is tender (11/2 hours to 13/4 hours). Remove from heat and cool in pan with lid on. Once cool, remove octopus and separate tentacles, then strain juices and pour over the tentacles.
- 2For tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add garlic and stir just to release flavour (about 1 minute). Add tomatoes, bay leaves and chilli flakes, and cook until tomatoes start to break down (10-15 minutes). Stir in olives and parsley, season to taste, and remove from heat.
- 3Preheat oven to 150°C. Slice bread with a sharp knife to 2mm thick, then cut out rounds with an 8cm cutter. Line a baking tray with baking paper, place rounds on tray, cover with another sheet of baking paper then another baking tray to keep bread flat and bake until golden and crisp (8-10 minutes). Toasts will keep in an airtight container for 2 days.
- 4Drain capers and dry well on paper towels. Fill a saucepan one-quarter full with oil and heat to 180°C. Add capers and fry until crisp (10 seconds). Drain and cool on paper towels.
- 5Heat a barbecue or char-grill pan to high heat. Pat octopus dry with paper towels, place in a bowl, season with salt and toss with enough olive oil to coat. Grill octopus until charred and heated through (1-2 minutes each side).
- 6Warm tomato sauce in a saucepan and spoon some onto plates. Arrange grilled octopus on top, sprinkle with dried olives and crisp capers, and serve with sourdough toasts on the side.
Look for pre-packed uncooked Fremantle octopus hands (tentacles) in select fishmongers. If it's unavailable, ask a fishmonger to clean an octopus for you. Semi-dried olives are available from select delicatessens. Gaeta olives are available from select delicatessens, Italian grocers, and online at gourmetlife.com.au.Drink suggestion: A fruity white, such as Marco Carpineti "Moro" Greco Giallo-Greco Moro from Lazio. Drink suggestion by Carlo Grossi.