Odd Ingredients For The Experimental Home Cook

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(CNN) — While octopus, squid ink, razor clams, sea urchin and goat might sound a little terrifying to the home cook of the boneless-skinless-chicken-breast-variety, they’re eaten quite regularly around the world and easy to prepare with a little ingenuity.

Seeing that Halloween is just a few weeks away, Mike Isabella, “Top Chef” alum and author of the newly released “Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian: Big Flavors, Small Plates,” dares you to cook up something delicious.

1. Octopus (recipe below)

“People may be turned off by the raw texture, legs and tentacles, but the key to good octopus is braising to make it nice and tender, and not chewy. Then, I like to finish octopus in a pan or on a grill to get some char and smokiness into it.”

2. Baby Goat (recipe below)

“People think of goat as a tougher meat they find in Indian dishes and curries, but baby goat is very similar to lamb. It’s tender and mild. You can roast, braise or even confit it in olive oil.”

3. Sea Urchin

“The part of the sea urchin we eat is the roe sack, so it has a strong ocean flavor. It’s great served raw, but you can also use sea urchin in a vinaigrette or aioli to give it a nice, rich flavor.”

4. Razor Clams

“Unlike round clams, the shell stays open and the meat hangs out of the shell. You can steam, smoke or grill razor clams and eat them whole or slice them over a salad or other dish. They have a very mild flavor compared to other clams.”

5. Squid Ink

“You can find squid ink in seafood markets and specialty stores. It’s a coloring agent with a bit of brininess. Use it in pastas, breads and sauces to give a deep, rich color. You get a touch of brininess and seafood flavor, but more than anything it’s a coloring agent.”

Smoky Octopus with Chickpeas and Artichokes

Serves 4 as a small plate

 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

 1 Tbsp black peppercorns

 1 bay leaf

 3 whole octopus (1/2 pound each)

 1 whole lemon, quartered

 8 baby artichokes (or 4 large artichokes)

 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice

 1 tsp kosher salt

 1 cup chickpea purée (recipe below)

 1 Tbsp finely chopped chives

Cooking Directions

 Preheat the oven to 325°F.

 Combine the red wine vinegar, peppercorns and bay leaf in a baking dish. Place the octopus in the baking dish, tentacles down and heads up. Cover with parchment paper, then tightly cover the dish with aluminum foil. Braise for 1 hour, or until the octopus is soft and tender.

 While the octopus is in the oven, fill a large bowl with cold water. Squeeze the lemon quarters into the water, then drop them in.

 Clean the artichokes by removing the outer leaves until you see fully yellow leaves. Cut 1/2 inch from the top and trim a little off of the bottom stem. With a paring knife, remove the outer green part of the stem until you see mostly white flesh. Cut each artichoke heart in half, lengthwise, and store them in the lemon water for 5 minutes. If using large artichokes, quarter each heart and scrape out and discard the fuzz.

 Remove the artichokes from the lemon water and thinly slice. Transfer to a bowl and toss with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Marinate at room temperature until you are ready to use.

 When the octopus is finished braising, remove them from the baking dish and let them rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle. Remove the tentacles from the bodies and discard the bodies.

 Heat an indoor grill pan or an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Strain the artichokes from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Lightly brush the

 octopus tentacles with the reserved marinade and grill for 1-2 minutes on each side or until nicely charred with grill marks. The octopus is already fully cooked, so you are just adding a smoky flavor.

 Spoon some chickpea purée onto a serving dish and top with octopus. Garnish with marinated artichokes and chives.

Chickpea Purée

 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

 2 tsp coriander seeds

 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 2 Tbsp lemon juice

 1 tsp kosher salt

 2 Tbsp water

 In a medium saucepan, cover the chickpeas with water, bring to a boil, then drain.

 Toast coriander seeds in a dry sauté pan over medium heat for 5 minutes, shaking the pan often to prevent burning. Grind seeds into a fine powder in a spice grinder or mini food processor.

 Put the chickpeas, coriander powder, olive oil, lemon juice and salt into a food processor and process, slowly adding the water while the food processor is running.

 Process for 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth, stopping only to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.

 Chickpea purée can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Slow-Roasted Goat with Greek Salad

Serves 4 as a small plate

 1 pound goat tenderloin (3-4 loins) or lamb tenderloin

 2 tsp kosher salt

 8 sprigs thyme

 3 sprigs rosemary

 4 bay leaves

 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the Greek salad

 1 cup chopped plum tomatoes

 1 cup chopped English cucumbers

 1/2 cup medium-diced green bell pepper

 1/2 cup medium-diced red onion

 1 Tbsp dried oregano

 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

 1 tsp kosher salt

Cooking Directions

 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Season the goat with salt.

 Place a baking rack on a baking sheet and arrange the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves on the rack. Place the goat on the herbs and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 125°F.

 Toss all the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Transfer the salad to a large serving dish.

 Remove the goat from the oven and let it rest at room temperature for 4 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch pieces and lay them on the salad. Garnish with feta and serve.
By Eatocracy Editors
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