Food & Drink

Autumn Recipe

Massimo Mele, Executive Chef of Haritos Hotels and owner of Catering by Massimo Mele, is a first class chef with a big Italian heart. His passion for food comes from being surrounded by great Italian food from an early age. 

To celebrate the arrival of autumn, Massimo shares a delicious recipe straight from his family’s recipe book…
 
Recipe: Nonna’s boiled octopus with almond puree, garlic, chilli and olive oil 
 
Massimo’s chef secret: triple blanch your octopus before simmering until tender

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 kg (2 lb, 4 oz) octopus tentacles
  • 5x garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 1x long red chilli, sliced (seeds removed, if you prefer mild hotness)
  • 1x tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1x tablespoon chopped marjoram
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine vinegar
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) mild extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra white wine vinegar, to serve
  • 1x head of fennel
  • ½ head of radicchio
  • 1x celery heart light green leaves only

For the almond tarator:
  • 2x slices of sourdough bread
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2x garlic cloves
  • ½ cup water
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 100ml milk
 

METHOD:

  1. Place a large saucepan of sea water over high heat and bring to the boil. If sea water is unattainable, add 500g of rock salt to 5 litres (20 cups) of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Blanch the octopus three times in boiling water for about 5 seconds each time.
  3. Once complete, turn the heat down and add the octopus and potatoes to the same pan.
  4. Gently simmer for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove the octopus from the pan and set aside.
  5. Once the octopus is cool enough to handle, chop it into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces and put in a non-reactive bowl.
  6. Add all the remaining ingredients and leave to marinate for 2 hours minimum in the refrigerator.

Massimo’s tip:
  • When chopping garlic, use the back of your knife and heel of your hand to crush it first and save yourself time
  • Remove the garlic. Season with more vinegar and with freshly ground black pepper. It shouldn’t need any salt. 

For the tarator:
  • Dip bread in milk and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Squeeze dry and place in processor along with almond meal and garlic.
  • Add water to make a smooth paste, olive oil, a little salt and pepper, lemon juice to taste. 

Note: A little extra water might be needed. Consistency should be light and fluffy.

To serve place some almond tarator on a plate, top with marinated octopus. Finely slice some fennel, radicchio and celery heart and place on top and serve. 
 

About Massimo Mele

Massimo Mele, Executive Chef of Haritos Hotel Group and Owner of Catering by Massimo Mele.
 
Born in Tasmania and raised in Naples, cooking was a family affair that featured prominently in Massimo’s upbringing. He watched his mother turn produce straight from her veggie patch, in the rich soils beneath Mount Vesuvius, into an abundance of wholesome and delicious food. It’s a way of cooking that’s engrained; wherever he is, Massimo seeks out fresh ingredients from their source.

Massimo’s family returned to Tasmania, where he honed his food senses working in the family restaurant, before crossing the strait to undertake his apprenticeship under his mentor Chef Roberto Castellanni at the prestigious Donovan’s Restaurant in St Kilda.
 
The last 8 years Massimo has been running kitchen in Sydney where he has made quite a name for himself. Massimo also heads up his own catering and event company, Catering by Massimo Mele. After 15 years cooking in kitchens all over the world, he focuses on creating a restaurant experience and level for guests in their own comfortable surroundings.

When he is not in his kitchen he is hosting his own “pop up events” called Tutti a Tavola - “everyone to the table”, a celebration of sharing food and wine with friends and family. All over the country, Mele also loves passing on his knowledge these days with hands on cooking classes as well as team building classes.
 
Massimo took over the kitchen as Executive Chef and re-launched, La Scala on Jersey. Mele is drawing on his childhood influences from Naples, to deliver both his modern take on the originals as well as traditional Italian dishes. La Scala on Jersey brings to life his ethos of Tutti A Tavola – ‘everyone to the table’. Garnering reviews in SMH’s Good Food recently, La Scala is a place for every occasion, a place to share food and wine with friends and family, a place for a casual dinner and a place for celebration. 

Massimo is now working on opening a new restaurant in the Sydney CBD in early June 2016 and in Tasmania late 2017 - stay tuned…
 
AMP Capital Shopping Centres thanks Massimo Mele and Electrolux for this recipe. Massimo cooked this recipe in the Electrolux Taste Theatre at Taste of Sydney.