4 servings as a main course
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup/120 ml olive oil, or slightly more if desired
1 medium-size octopus (2-2 ½ pounds/1 -1.35 kilos)
½ cup ouzo
1 cup chopped plum tomatoes, or 1 can Greek whole Santorini tomatoes in their juices
½ cup fresh chopped fennel leaves, packed or 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped*
Freshly ground black and green peppercorns, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 large orange, sliced into 8 wedges
½ cup pitted green olives, rinsed thoroughly
1. Wash octopus and cut away ink sac and mouth. Cut into 8 pieces, along the tentactles. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat and cook the onion, fennel bulb if using* and garlic, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the octopus. Cook, covered, over low heat until the octopus discards its juices and is bright pink and tender, about 30 minutes. Check occasionally to be sure it doesn’t burn, adding a little water if there is no liquid in pot.
3. Pour in the ouzo and tomatoes. Add the fennel fronds if using* and pepper. Add the tomatoes and orange wedges, squeezing them a little to get their juice into the pot, too. Cover and simmer over low heat for another 45 to 60 minutes, or as needed, until octopus is very tender but not stringy. Check during cooking to be sure there’s ample liquid in the pot, and add water, if necessary. About 5 minutes before removing octopus from heat, add green olives and season with salt.
* If using fennel bulb, sauté together with the onion and garlic. If using fennel fronds only, add them in step 3.