Grilled Octopus with Ancho Chile Sauce


Tom Colicchio was inspired by the smoky flavors of Mexico while filming season 12 of Top Chef. He incorporated many of those elements into the menu at his new restaurant, Beachcraft, at the 1 Hotel in Miami Beach. In this dish, the octopus is first braised in sherry and then the skin is removed to make it extra-tender before it’s finished on the grill and glazed with a tangy ancho chile sauce. Slideshow:  More Grilled Seafood Recipes 

Grilled Octopus with Ancho Chile Sauce
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins



  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • One cleaned octopus, head and tentacles separated

  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced

  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika)

  • 2 cups dry sherry


  • 3 ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

  • 1 small dried chipotle chile, stemmed and seeded

  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons honey

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

  • Salt

  • Canola oil, for brushing

  • Jicama Salad, for serving 


Prepare the octopus

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil. Add half of the octopus and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until lightly browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining octopus.

  2. Add the shallots and garlic to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the pimentón and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds. Carefully add the sherry and bring to a boil. Return the octopus to the casserole, cover and braise in the oven until very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let the octopus cool completely in the liquid.

Meanwhile, make the sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan, toast the chiles over moderate heat, turning, until fragrant and pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, honey and garlic and bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let stand until the chiles are softened, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. With the machine on, gradually add the grapeseed oil until incorporated. Season the ancho chile sauce with salt.

  2. Remove the octopus from the liquid. Using a paper towel, wipe the purple skin off the tentacles, leaving the suckers intact. Cut the head in half. Discard the braising liquid.

  3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan and brush with canola oil. Grill the octopus over high heat, turning, until lightly charred all over, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and immediately brush with some of the ancho chile sauce. Serve with the jicama salad, passing the remaining sauce at the table.

Make Ahead

The recipe can be prepared through Step 4; refrigerate the octopus and ancho chile sauce separately for up to 3 days.

Suggested Pairing

Dry, fruit-forward rosés can help cut the heat in spicy dishes like this octopus.

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