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Octopus, Pea And Red Wine Stew

This recipe is adapted and slightly simplified from a technique given in Rick Stein's Complete Seafood (Wiley 2004). The trickiest part, which isn't terribly tricky, is making sure the octopus is cooked enough to be tender. Test carefully with the tip of a paring knife or fork until the flesh of the tentacles offers little resistance.

Octopus, Pea And Red Wine Stew
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

Makes 4 servings

2 pounds thawed or fresh pre-cleaned baby octopus

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic gloves, thinly sliced

6 shallots, sliced

2 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 teaspoon sugar

2 ripe medium tomatoes

2/3 cup frozen green peas

1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Place the octopus and 1/3 cup of the oil into an ovenproof casserole with a well-fitting lid. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours, until very tender (test with a paring knife; the flesh should part with little resistance).

Heat the rest of the olive oil in a shallow pan with the garlic and shallots, and cook gently until they are soft and lightly colored. Add the red wine, sugar and tomatoes. Simmer until almost all the wine has evaporated.

Lift the baby octopus out of the casserole, reserving the cooking juices, and divide each lengthwise into two halves. Return the octopus to the red wine reduction. Strain the cooking juices into the pan as well and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the liquid has mostly reduced.

Add the peas and simmer just long enough to thaw them. Season to taste and stir in parsley.

Serve with thick, crusty slices of bread.

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