This week my blog is slightly different to normal, in that I have been asked to create a recipe around a certain ingredient; red wine. It is the first of a two-parter, with this entry covering a savoury dish and the next tackling a dessert. I have been challenged by Campo Viejo wines, who I first met up with a couple of months ago for a Spanish ham and wine tasting event. On that occasion I found it so interesting to discover different pairings between the two, and even for a relative wine novice like myself I learned so much. Despite loving to eat Spanish food, I very rarely cook it and I left hugely inspired and eager to rectify that fact!
When I was initially challenged to create this recipe, I was really keen to create something around the iconic Iberico pork. During the wine and ham event I discussed it with the Spanish food expert, and I loved the idea of a barbequed piece of the pork shoulder; cooked rare in the middle like a steak with a beautifully charred crust. However, in the days leading up to testing my recipe I hit a pretty crucial snag, I just couldn’t get my hands on any of the meat. Working nine-to-five with blogging squeezed into any spare evenings or days off, this is a surprisingly common problem when it comes to some specialist ingredients. This was indeed the case here, and I was forced to consider a last-minute alternative. In the end it was a pretty easy substitution, and something also inspired from my recent travels to Barcelona: octopus. I have wonderful memories of sitting outside picking on juicy, tender bits of tentacle in the sweltering heat, and it also happened to match my other intended ingredients. So a no-brainer really.
When it came to using the red wine, I wanted to create something that was almost like a dressing instead of a thick, heavy sauce. Usually I would associate red wine in cooking with hearty winter dishes, clinging to soft mash potato or slow-cooked meat. But here it combines with lovely light, seasonal vegetables in a very summery plate of food. Campo recommended that I use the Tempranillo for this recipe, which with the sobrasada was perfect with the octopus. It’s almost a take on the classic squid and chorizo combination, but the addition of the red wine helps give a greater depth which ties everything together.
A lot of the more time consuming elements of this dish can be made in advance. Choose a double-suckered, Mediterranean species of octopus that has been frozen and defrosted. This process helps to initially tenderise the flesh, and means that a much shorter braising period is required. This can be done the day before, along with making the red wine sauce and the mayonnaise. The other elements take minutes to throw together and make a lovely midweek meal.
For the octopus:
1 large octopus, about 1.5kg, cleaned and previously frozen
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of rosemary
For the marinade:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 small dried chilli, crumbled
2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
1 lemon, zest only
For the red wine and sobrasada sauce:
2 red onions, finely sliced
170g sobrasada, cut into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
1 tbsp hot smoked paprika
500ml red wine
For the saffron and lemon mayonnaise:
1 clove of garlic, grated
A splash of white wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juice and zest
A pinch of saffron strands
2 egg yolks
250ml vegetable oil
For the charred spring onions:
12 spring onions, trimmed
½ a lemon, juice only
For the girolles:
20 girolle mushrooms, trimmed and brushed of any dirt
1 knob of butter
For the peas:
3 handfuls of fresh peas, podded
½ a lemon, juice only
First cook the octopus. Put the octopus and all of the vegetables and herbs into a large saucepan and just cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes until the octopus is very tender. Allow to cool slightly, then remove the octopus and cut the tentacles into individual pieces and the body into strips. Put into a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients and a good amount of seasoning. Stir to combine, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
To make the mayonnaise, put the garlic, saffron, mustard, vinegar, egg yolks, seasoning and lemon zest into a food processor and mix together really well. Trickle in the vegetable oil very slowly, until the sauce comes together into a thick mayonnaise. Squeeze in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
For the wine and sobrasada sauce, put a large frying pan onto a medium heat. Fry the sobrasada, onions, garlic, rosemary and paprika in a little oil for about 10 minutes, or until everything is very soft. Turn the heat up slightly and pour in the wine, then bring to the boil and reduce by half. Transfer to a food processor and blend together really well, then pass through a sieve lined with muslin. Keep warm.
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
Melt the butter for the mushrooms in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.
Set a heavy griddle onto a very high heat. If using a barbeque, make sure the coals are really hot.
Roll the spring onions in olive oil and season well, then cook on the griddle for 2 minutes each side until slightly blackened. Remove to a plate and squeeze over the lemon juice.
When the onions are done cook the octopus on the same griddle. Fry very quicky for 1-2 minutes each side before removing and squeezing more lemon over the top.
While the onions and octopus is cooking, fry the mushrooms in the melted butter for 2-3 minutes until lightly coloured and cooked through.
Cook the peas for about 2 minutes in the boiling water until just tender. Drain and season.
To plate up, arrange 3 spring onions on each plate and top with three pieces of charred octopus. Dot some of the mayonnaise around the sides and scatter on some peas and girolles. Spoon over some of the sauce and finish with a few basil leaves.