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Andres Padilla's Octopus Pibil

Andres Padilla's Octopus Pibil

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Topolobampo Executive Chef Andres Padilla's pibil switches out pork with octopus for a contemporary take on a traditional Yucatecan dish full of bright, earthy flavors.

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- [Chef Padilla] Most people think of pibil as being a cochinita, or pig dish using pork or a suckling pig but we're using the octopus, which is really unique. The octopus pibil represents Yucatecan cuisine, in a way, using fire, using Earth, using these bright flavors, and captures an essence of what I think of the Yucatan. I'm Andres Padilla, I'm the executive chef at Tobolobampo in Chicago, Illinois. In the Yucatan, going back all the way to when the indigenous people were there, they found this way of cooking in the ground and they referred to this hip oven as a pebe. I've had the opportunity to travel to Yucatan and have this cochinita pibil and the flavors are just inspiring, so I thought, what can we do, what haven't we done, how can we make it different, how can we make it incredibly delicious? And this idea popped into my head to use all of these same techniques and same flavor profiles and use octopus. I thought it would be a really fun play on a really classic traditional dish, with a very contemporary, modern approach. You would find octopus in Yucatecan cuisine, but usually done in a different way. I have yet to see an octopus pibil plate in my travels to Yucatan. The first thing we wanna do is marinate the octopus, and to do that, we're gonna make this achiote marinade. To start this marinade, we're going to combine in a blender these achiote seeds that have been soaking in vinegar for 24 hours, black peppercorns, and Mexican oregano. After that, we're gonna add our cloves, fresh Mexican cinnamon, and roasted garlic. And then to finish this, we're gonna add salt, apple cider vinegar, and a little bit of water to get it blended. Now we're gonna blend it, and what we're looking for is a thick marinade, we want it to be able to coat the octopus really well, but we can't be too thick where it won't pour out of the blender. Pour it over our octopus, we're going to toss the octopus, make sure it's nice and covered all the way around, and we're gonna get it ready to put in the bag. Since we're cooking this sous vide, we're going to build all of our flavors in the bag. We're gonna first add this banana leaf, but we're gonna torch it. That's gonna help to accelerate this process, bring out the aroma of the banana leaf, and really kind of impart that flavor. It's a major player in the flavor of pibil. First, we're gonna slide this banana leaf into the bag, then we're gonna take our marinated octopus and add that to the bag as well. Finally, we're gonna add lard to the bag. It's gonna impart a lot of flavor, also it's gonna make a really rich, finished sauce. We're gonna seal this bag up, and we're gonna drop it into a water bath at 170 degrees, and we're gonna cook it for four hours. This is gonna start to tenderize the octopus, those flavors of the achiote are gonna start to come out, that banana leaf flavor's gonna start to penetrate the octopus. It's gonna just have this beautiful, beautiful texture when it comes out of there. We're gonna strain this liquid out through a chinois into a blender to start building our sauce. We're gonna turn on the blender, we're gonna start slowly adding our ultra-tex, this is a hydrocolloid that derives from tapioca starch. It's going to help to thicken our sauce to the appropriate consistency that we're looking for. Once the sauce coats the back of a spoon, the sauce is done. The black bean puree, this is something that would be typically served with cochinita pibil and something that really defines the flavor in the Yucatan. We're gonna get a pot on the stove, add a little bit of oil. We're gonna chop some of these guero chiles, we're gonna throw them into the pot. We're gonna chop an onion in half and let that start kind of sweating out a little bit. And then we'll add our beans. We'll then add our water, and then we'll top it off with the epazote. Bring the beans up, they'll start simmering. You want them to cook for a couple of hours. Check them, they should have a nice, tender feel to them, you should be able to bite into them without getting any resistance. The beans are done, they're cooked. We need to make our refried beans to finish our puree. Add some lard to the pan, and then we have these chopped onions we're going to add to this and we're gonna sweat those down. And we're gonna remove the large chunk of onion from the cooked black beans, slowly add, very carefully add these black beans to the lard and the onions with the epazote and guero chile. You're gonna get all this mixed together. You want that lard to coat all the beans. You'll start smelling all these beautiful aromas. Once you get them there, you're gonna kind of smash them with the back of your spoon, and then you're gonna be ready to blend. So we're gonna add this to our blender. We're going to add the squid ink to this. I thought it would be a funny play, with the black beans on an octopus dish, to make them even blacker with a little bit of ink. Once they're blended smooth to the consistency we need them to be, the black beans are ready to go. Another awesome garnish that is served with cochinita pibil, or you'll find it all over the Yucatan, is these beautiful pickled onions. Add some red beets to a blender full of water to make our beet water. Blend these beats in that water until that liquid is dark, dark red, and then you're gonna strain that out into a pot through a chinois. In that pot, you're gonna add the rice wine vinegar, salt, sugar, bay leaves, cloves, and black pepper and coriander. We wanna steep those spices, we wanna get all those flavors out of those spices. While the brine is boiling, you're gonna chop your knob onions in half, you're gonna cut the greens off, and you're gonna split the knobs. After that, we'll pour the hot mixture right over the onions. You're gonna let them sit for a couple of hours. That's gonna slightly cook them a little bit and get them nice and tender. Also, this color from the beet is gonna bleed into the knob onions. When the onions are done, they look like this beautiful flower petal. I wanted to capture every part of what I think of this traditional cochinita pibil on this octopus pibils. Take your octopus, toss it with a little bit of oil, and then throw it down on the grill. You wanna get a little bit of that char flavor on there. It also gets the skin crispy. A little bit of texture when you bite into it. We're gonna place our banana leaf that's been cut on an angle, torch it, again, it's all about aroma. We want the aroma to strike the guests when it hits the table. We're gonna put down our black bean puree. Gonna make a little circle, a little base. Then we're gonna lay down our octopus. It's got this beautiful kiss from the flames. It goes on top of the black bean puree. You wanna put it down in a way that you're able to build on top of it. After that, we're gonna put our pickled onions in a way that they achieve a little bit of height. Then we have these beautifully sliced habanero chilies. We're gonna lay those down on top of that. We're gonna pull up these petals from the flowers that have these beautiful colors. Lastly, we're gonna pud down this rich pibil broth from the octopus that were rendered out during the cooking process. It makes a very nice finish to a beautiful dish. After the sauce goes down on the plate, you have your octopus pibil here at Topolobampo. This octopus pibil has got all these textures, all these flavors going on. This really rich black beans down at the bottom of the plate. The octopus that's been char grilled, but then cooked slowly, so when you bite into it, you have this crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. You have these bright acid flavors from the onions, and then the spiciness from the habanero chile. When I taste this dish, it takes me right back to Yucatan, eating a taco, standing over a wood fire, all the senoritas around the corner, hand pressing tortillas. It transplants me back to the Yucatan. This dish is special to me because it's telling you about a place, about flavor, about our restaurant, and it's telling you about me. All of those things come together on this plate.

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