Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Onions and Pancetta

Tender grilled octopus served with sliced potatoes, and a caramelized-smoky topping make every bite of this seafood appetizer triply delicious!

Summertime is the only time we get to enjoy grilled octopus and this is grilled octopus served with sliced potatoes, topped with caramelized onions, pancetta, capers, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Delish!

Don't let this sea creature intimidate you. I was for many years, until I finally got the nerve to try it by making one of our favorite appetizers we always order at one of our go-to restaurants here in Charleston, "The Wild Olive."  I found out that octopus is relatively easy to prep before grilling it. There's really nothing to it. Just a good boil in water will do the trick. You may be surprised to know that octopus is relatively cheap too, about $8.99 per pound at Whole Foods, and one pound is enough to serve 2-4 people.

Since we order the grilled octopus as often as we do, I knew I had to ask the chef how he prepares it and then of course, I also called our mom!

I was lucky enough to find it at Wholefoods a few weeks ago, and wanted to try it myself to see if I could duplicate the restaurant's presentation. The outcome was amazing! It turned out tender and flavorful; not at least bit fishy tasting at all.

There are several ways to prepping this octopus before grilling it. The most common way (and most restaurants use this method) is to braise it in the oven with olive oil, garlic and parsley for about 1-2 hours, to tenderize the octopus before grilling (wishful thinking, ha ha). Another way is to simply boil the octopus on stove-top for about 25-40 minutes (or longer depending on the size) in water infused with wine, garlic and pepper corns, mom's trick to flavoring. Then place the octopus directly onto your grill and grill it for a few minutes per side until it's slightly charred and crispy. 

Served with boiled sliced potatoes, cooked pancetta and caramelized onions with lemon, olive oil and capers makes this grilled octopus dish a flavorful seafood appetizer. The flavors are wonderful! You can enjoy it warm, room temperature, or chilled as an octopus salad!

Before the summer slips away, this is a great opportunity to try something new and delicious, while the season still lasts. You will be proud of your endeavors and your enthusiastic eaters will be delighted and your not-so-adventuresome eaters can "try" just a "taste" of something current, flavorful and from nature's bounty. They might be just as surprised as I was, and could become "hooked." Think of grilled octopus for your next Bar-b-que. 


Grilled Octopus with Potatoes, Capers, Onions and Pancetta

  • 1 pound octopus (about 2 large tentacles)
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. whole pepper corns
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil- divided
  • 1 yellow onion - diced
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp. cubed pancetta
  • 2 lemons, juiced- divided
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, boiled, skins peeled, sliced
  • 1 to 2 tsp. capers
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 green onion, sliced on diagonal, to garnish
Place octopus into a large pot with pour water over it, about 2 inches or more, enough to cover the octopus. Add in 1/2 cup of wine, garlic cloves, 1/2 lemon juiced and pepper corns.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer on low heat. Cook octopus for about 20 to 40 minutes, or until it's tender when pierced with a knife or fork through one of the large tentacles.

Drain, and allow the octopus to reach room temperature before grilling.

Meantime, slice potatoes and set aside.  In a small non-stick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sauté onions and pancetta until the onions are caramelized and the pancetta is crispy brown, about 5 minutes.  Turn off heat and set aside. 
When your outside grill is hot and ready. Season octopus lightly with salt and pepper. 
Drizzle or brush some olive oil over it and place the octopus directly onto the grill and cook it for about 6 to 8 minutes per side, until octopus turns brown.  Remove and transfer to a cutting board.

Slice the tentacles about 1/2-inch thick, and transfer to a serving platter.  Arrange sliced potatoes on both ends of the platter.  Spoon the pancetta and onions mixture over the octopus and potatoes evenly.  Drizzle over the entire platter with capers, remaining extra-virgin olive oil and remaining lemon juice.  Lightly season with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Garnish with green onions on top.  Serve warm, room temperature, or even cold is fine too.  Refrigerate any leftovers.  This can be served as a salad the next day.  Enjoy!

Serve 2 to 4
                                      *****       *****       *****       ****

This summer has been flying by! Where did August go?  But no complaints, it's been a wonderful summer so far. We can't believe that our youngest daughter Lizzy starts college classes this week.  Hope you have a wonderful week! Thanks for stopping by!  :) 
Warmly, Anna and Liz
Previous Post Next Post