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When grilled to perfection, the otherwise tough and chewy meat of the octopus becomes a melt-in-your-mouth delicacy with a tender texture and wonderfully smoky flavor. No wonder it is a favorite in the Greek islands, with most restaurants serving it as a meze, or small dish, accompanied by olives, cheese and bread. Assuming you can find fresh octopus at your grocer or fishmonger, grilling it is easy. The addition of an acidic marinade helps tenderize the meat and add flavor.
Put the octopus in a large pot with the water, white wine and red wine. Bring it to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the chopped onion, celery and parsley, sliced leek, minced garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves.
Simmer with the lid on for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the octopus is tender.
Make the marinade by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, dried oregano, chopped parsley, black pepper and salt to taste.
Remove the octopus from the pot, and cut off the tentacles from the top. Discard the body.
Place the tentacles in a large bowl, and coat them with the marinade. Set aside to marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill on high.
Place the marinated octopus pieces on the grill grates or directly on the hot coals.
Sear for 4 to 5 minutes, turning the pieces to brown them evenly.
Remove the octopus pieces from the heat, and serve with lemon wedges.
- Henry Lederer/Photodisc/Getty Images