Molise Hot Purgatory, Polpi in Purgatorio Recipe from Country Cooking of Italy

It's already been a couple weeks since I shared Panelle, Sicilian Fritters, Gluten Free Recipe from The Country Cooking of Italy (Chronicle Books, Fall 2011) by Colman Andrews.

The catholic boy in me had to choose purgatory recipe below as second pick.

Polpi in Purgatorio (Spicy Octopus, Molise Style)

 In Southern Italy, dried red chile flakes—pepperoncini—are sometimes called la droga di poveri – “the drug of the poor”—because, unlike black pepper, grown in tropical climes and imported into Italy, chile plants grow in every yard. “Octopus in purgatory,” is a specialty of Molise, a small, largely bucolic region on the Adriatic, and the "newest" region of Italy, having been administratively separated from Abruzzo only in 1963. Called i pulepe ‘npregatorie in the local dialect, it is one of the spiciest Italian dishes I’ve encountered.

Serves 4

1/2 cup/120 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 to 10 sprigs Italian parsley, minced
2 teaspoons peperoncini, or more to taste
11/2 to 2 pounds/750 grams to 1 kilogram frozen octopus tentacles, thawed and cut into pieces about 2 inches/5 centimeters long

Polpi in Purgatorio

 Heat half the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, parsley, and peperoncini and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften, 6 to 8 minutes.

 Put the tentacles in a pot and add the onion mixture and the remaining oil. Add enough water just to cover the tentacles, then bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, season generously with salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 hours. Serve immediately.

(* Recipe from The Country Cooking of Italy by Colman Andrews- Chronicle Books, Fall 2011- reproduced with permission of the publisher- all rights reserved- Photography by Hirsheimer and Hamilton)

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