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Grilled Octopus With Creamy Polenta – Recipe 🇮🇹

This perfectly cooked octopus is served over creamy polenta with lemon zest and parsley.

Grilled octopus is one of my favorite things to eat! It’s important to braise the octopus before grilling it so that it isn’t chewy. I make a braising liquid with water, lemon, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, garlic, and black peppercorns and I let it simmer for about 2 hours before grilling. Creamy polenta with lemon and parsley complements the grilled octopus and a nice light-bodied, lemony white wine such as Falanghina pairs really well with this dish!


  • Octopus (about 1 lb per person)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon cut in half + 1 lemon for zesting
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Fill a stock pot about 3/4 full with water and add the lemon halves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Bring up to a boil. 
  2. Meanwhile, rinse the octopus well under cool water. Remove the head and any entrails (watch this video here to see how). 
  3. When the water is boiling, add the octopus. Turn down the heat and let it simmer covered for 2 hours. 
  4. Start your polenta about 30-45 minutes before serving. Fill a separate pot with the chicken broth and follow the brand instructions for cooking. When the polenta is done cooking, add the butter and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in fresh grated lemon zest and parsley. Stir to incorporate. 
  5. Octopus should be finished braising while the polenta is cooking. Cut tentacles off to make grilling easier and grill the pieces until you have some nice char marks and color on each side. Salt to taste.
  6. When both the polenta and octopus are finished, pour polenta onto a plate or in a bowl and put pieces of octopus in the center. 
  7. This dish pairs well with a light-bodied, lemony white wine such as Falanghina.

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