Polvo no Forno (Oven-Cooked Octopus)

You guys.  I did it.  This recipe, honestly, has been hanging over me for some time now.  I’m squeamish with slimy things that have more than one two legs, so I was not looking forward to handling the octopus.  (To be REALLY honest, my boyfriend cut the octopus for me).  I know I’m not selling this recipe right now, but the reason I wanted to include it as one of the recipes here is because I knew that it was really good!

Although octopus wasn’t often served around the dinner table in our household and others I knew, it is a a quintessential Portuguese dish.  Go anywhere in Portugal, and it’ll be on the menu, prepared and served in various ways.  Personally, I remember my aunt on my dad’s side of the family, making it every Christmas.  With the holidays fast approaching, this recipe came to mind and I knew the time had come for me to face my fears (not only of handling the octopus, but executing it to perfection).

The recipe for this particular octopus dish is from my Grandmother, Teodora.  If you want to serve your guests something different and impress them this holiday season, this is the recipe for you!  The serving size here is small, probably for two people.  For a larger portion, double the recipe.

Yields: 2-4 servings


1 pound octopus, thoroughly cleaned and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons pepper
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped fine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons hot sauce or malagueta (recipe found in archives)
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons beer
salt, to taste


Note: You may have to cook octopus longer than an hour depending on your oven. If that’s the case, after 1 hour, lower temperature to 300°.


1)  Preheat oven to 400°.  Thoroughly clean and wash octopus.  Chop into 1-inch pieces and set aside.


2) In a large cooking pot or Dutch Oven, saute onion in olive oil until translucent and browned, about five minutes, and then add garlic.  Saute for a few additional minutes, and add the octopus.

3)  Add remaining ingredients to the pot and mix together.  Cover and cook for 1 hour, until octopus is tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.


4) Add salt only at the end, to taste.  The octopus is already salty, so you don’t want to add too much.