Octopus in red wine with cinnamon

Octopus in red wine with cinnamon

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy

The octopus needs to be frozen before cooking, in order to tenderise the flesh, so you will need to allow time for this and for defrosting before using it.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg octopus
2 red onions
1 garlic clove
4 tablespoons olive oil
400g tinned chopped plum tomatoes
200ml water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
200ml red wine
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Clean the octopus; this is similar to cleaning squid. Slit the main body of the octopus in half. Remove and discard the ink sac, stomach and eyes. Remove the beak from the middle of the tentacles. Wash well under cold running water. Put the octopus in a large plastic bag and freeze it overnight (or for longer).
  2. Defrost the octopus on a tray in the bottom of the fridge for several hours.
  3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the defrosted octopus and simmer for 10 minutes to loosen the outer skin. Remove it from the water and as soon as it is cool enough to handle, pull off the dark membrane. Cut the octopus into 5 cm squares and the tentacles into 5 cm pieces. Heat the oven to 170°C.
  4. Peel the onions and cut each into wedges about 5 mm wide. Peel and crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole, add the onions and octopus and fry until brown, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, water, wine vinegar, wine, bay leaves, sugar, cinnamon stick and some salt and pepper. Cover and cook in the oven for 1½–2 hours, or until the octopus is tender, checking occasionally; if it seems dry, add some more water.
  6. Taste the sauce: add more water or reduce to achieve the desired flavour. Discard the cinnamon, adjust the seasoning and serve, with buttered couscous if you like.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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