Octopus in Ranchero Sauce

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“This recipe is adapted from the wonderful "Cuisine of the Water Gods" which is sadly out of print. It's hands down my favorite octopus recipe. It seems like a lot of work the first time you make it, but trust me, this will blow your mind. Even the most squeamish folks I know love it.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. First roast 2 medium onion and 2 heads garlic in the oven (at 425 for 20 minutes or so until they start to caramelize). Alternately you can pan roast them in a cast iron skillet.
  2. In a large pot place roasted onion and garlic, octopus, 2 bunches parsley & cilantro, peppercorns, 4 serrano chiles (whole), 16 cups water and beer.
  3. Boil for 1 1/2 to two hours.
  4. Remove from heat and let the octopus cool in the liquid while you start the ranchero sauce.
  5. Bring 6 cups of water to boil with 16 plum tomatoes, 14 serranos, 1 1/2 sliced tomatoes and 6 cloves of garlic and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Strain out the solids (saving the Ranchero broth), puree the solids in a blender or Cuisinart with 1 1/2 cups or the retained broth.
  7. Now, heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a tall thick pot and add 6 cloves of garlic. Simmer the garlic until it turns golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and carefully pour in the Ranchero sauce. This will cause splattering so I strongly encourage long sleeves. Stir like mad for the first few minutes until it's a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Now strain the liquid from the simmered octopus and in a separate pan cook down to 3 cups. This should take about 30 minutes. Meanwhile separate the octopus from the veggies and toss the veggies.
  9. While the ranchero sauce and octopus are simmering down take the final 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of cilantro and salt and either in a pestle or a blender puree into a smooth paste.
  10. Add the paste, octopus and reduced octopus stock to the ranchero sauce and cook for a final 20 minutes.
  11. I sometimes split this recipe over two days (make the octopus one night and the ranchero the next).

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