Recipe for the Pignata Octopus of Puglia


The Pignata Octopus (Purpu a Pignata in local dialect) is a typical recipe in Puglia. The pignata is the terracotta container used for cooking it. Once it was done on the fire, today we have modern cookers and we do it in saucepans. But nothing prohibits you from cooking it old style if you have a terracotta container at home. Here’s the recipe.

1 Octopus | Cherry tomatoes | Parsley, Celery, Oregano, Extra virgin olive oil, Chili peppers | 1 Onion | 1 Clove of garlic | Salt | Rosemary and Bay leaves (optional)

Wash the octopus and cut it into pieces. Place it in a high saucepan. Place the octopus and all the other ingredients in the pan: the clove of garlic, the finely chopped onion, the parsley, the celery, the oregano, the chili pepper and the salt. Add the extra virgin olive oil at the end. If you like it you can also add rosemary and bay leaves: at your taste. Cook on a low heat. You don’t need to add water in the saucepan because the octopus lets out its own water and flavours itself with all the other spices that we added (as you say in my neck of the woods: lu purpu si coce cu l’acqua soa stessa in other words the octopus cooks in its own water). Cooking time is generally no less than an hour, although: you must taste it from time to time to see at what point the octopus is and regulate yourselves accordingly. Towards the end of the cooking stage pour some cherry tomatoes chopped into pieces in the saucepan.

Once ready you can put it on any kind of short pasta like the “lumachine” (small snails) like in the opening photo or the “conchiglie” (shells), … Or, as tradition dictates in Puglia, with potatoes. If you want to make the Polpo a Pignata with potatoes though, you must put the potatoes directly in the saucepan with the octopus so they can cook and flavour directly together.

Enjoy your meal ;)

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