HTAPOTHI CAPAMA TIS ITHAKIS
Makes 4 servings
The word capama comes from the Turkish for “to cover.” It is a name given to many different kinds of stew all around Greece. Sometimes it refers to beef or chicken dishes cooked with tomatoes and cinnamon, other times to simple ragouts. This capama includes celery. What is unusual about it is that celery is usually cooked with white (lemon-based) sauces in the rest of Greece. But as in so many dishes in the Ionian, here the tomato reigns.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups coarsely chopped cultivated celery (with leaves) plus 1 teaspoon ground
- celery seeds, or 2 cups coarsely chopped wild celery (with leaves)
- 2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 medium fresh or frozen (see Note) octopus(about 3 pounds), cleaned if necessary
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup peeled and chopped plum tomatoes (canned are fine)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot and cook the celery (and celery seeds, if using), onions, and garlic over medium heat, stirring, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the octopus, cover, reduce the heat tolow, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the octopus from the pot and cut into 8 pieces. Return to the pot. Add the wine, bay leaves, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook covered, until the octopus is very tender and the sauce thick, another 45 minutes or so. Remove the bay leaves. Season with pepper and serve hot.
If using frozen octopus, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.