What’s more comforting on a cold evening than a plate of hot, oozy risotto? This delicious octopus risotto is an excellent dish for seafood lovers. It is made by stewing octopus tentacles in red wine and tomato, which tenderises the octopus and results in a strong-flavoured, fragrant cooking liquid or broth that can then be used to cook the rice in. Some fresh parsley and dill are added near the end of the cooking process as well to add a subtle freshness.
The octopus’ stewing process does add a bit more time to the usual twenty-something minutes it takes to prepare a regular risotto (let’s be honest, it’s a significant amount: around 45 minutes of cooking time extra – yikes), but the deep-flavoured, seafood-y rice dish with tender pieces of octopus you end up with makes it worth the time and effort, I think.
I use fresh octopus for this dish, but fresh octopus may not be so easily available outside of Greece (where I live) and other Mediterranean countries, but if you can find some frozen raw octopus instead, that will work perfectly fine for this recipe as well.
Looking for a different seafood risotto? Perhaps this cuttlefish risotto with squid and bottarga is more up your alley.
Octopus Risotto (with Red Wine and Tomato)
- For the octopus + broth:
- 500g cleaned octopus, tentacles separated from each other
- 200ml red wine
- 300g crushed tomatoes, or very ripe, peeled and grated fresh tomato
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 all-spice berries
- For the risotto:
- 50ml olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely minced
- 300g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 50g butter
- few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- few sprigs of fresh dill, finely chopped
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- To braise the octopus + make 'broth': to a large pot, add the octopus, red wine, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, all-spice and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes until the octopus is cooked and tender, but still slightly firm and not stringy. Once cooked, remove octopus tentacles from the pot, cover with foil and keep warm. Remove bay-leaf and all-spice berries and and add enough water to the 'broth' (if necessary) to make a total of about 1.4 litres. Keep broth on a very low simmer.
- To start the risotto, heat olive oil in a high rimmed pan or stockpot over medium heat. Add the minced onion and sauté until softened and glossy, then stir the rice through the onions and toast it for another minute or two.
- Pour a ladleful of the hot octopus broth into the rice and cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is absorbed by the rice before adding another ladleful. Continue this process of stirring in one ladle of stock at a time until the rice is cooked and you have used all or most of the broth. This process should take around 25 minutes, but, if necessary, cook a little longer and/or add some extra boiled water if you run out of stock before the rice is cooked to your desired consistency. Before adding the final ladle of stock, stir in the chopped fresh leaf parsley and dill.
- Once the risotto is cooked to your desired consistency (risotto can be slightly al dente, or soft and runny), remove pot from heat and vigorously stir in the butter until the risotto has got a creamy and glossy consistency. Season with more salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
- Divide risotto over plates and top with the octopus tentacles (whole or cut into pieces). Serve immediately.