The Octopus À Lagareiro: origin of a Portuguese delight

By : December 4th, 2020 Gastronomy 0 Comments

The octopus à lagareiro is a very typical recipe of Portuguese gastronomy in which the octopus, the main ingredient of many Portuguese cuisine dishes, becomes the protagonist here. First it is cooked and then taken to the grill where it acquires the crispy and delicious texture. The name of this recipe comes from the figure of the Lagareiro (an individual who works in a mill in the production of olive oil) and is applied in this recipe due to the large amount of oil that is used to water the octopus.

In historical terms, the mill was a rustic tank where handcrafted olives were worked and crushed into pastes, to be pressed in large millstones to extract the oil. The lagareiro, therefore, was responsible for the progress of the entire process.

In addition to the tasting, savouring the oil, some preparations were made as a test to check and classify the properties and qualities of the oil. They also served as a check on the performance of workers, unless whether disasters and / or pest attacks were recorded. Another factor that could compromise the qualities of olives and olive oil, but no less important, was the improper handling of the fruits, from harvesting and transportation to pressing and storage.

The olive oil manufacturing process is very delicate and requires agility, which requires the maximum attention of those who work in it. The time between harvesting the olives and processing them, should be done as soon as possible, so that they do not ferment. If this happens, there is a high probability of bacteria multiplication, with consequences that can be tragic for the degree of acidity of the final product.

A dish that started to be quite appreciated from the first crop of olive oil to be produced, was lagareiro cod, which in the original versions, dating back many centuries ago, says that this fish was desalted, breaded with leftover ground bread, fried in olive oil taken directly from the mills, ending up being savoured with raw or roasted garlic. This recipe had its origin in the Beiras, between the South of the Douro River and the North of the Tagus River, where the oldest urban centers and villages were built even before the official consolidation of the Portuguese nation.

The preparation of cod in the mills, when the olive oil corresponded to the expectations of the products, went beyond what should be a simple test, acquiring festive contours.

Thus, the months of hard work were celebrated. The story goes that as soon as the Portuguese and Spanish ships brought the potatoes, the perfect mix was found and from there arises the expression that in Portugal, a dish with cod, has potatoes. Later, cod ended up being replaced by octopus, reaching a greater number of consumers.

For this recipe to be called “lagareiro”, the predominant ingredients included boiled, roasted and pounded potatoes, onion, garlic and at the end, all dipped in olive oil, the main ingredient of this dish.

Recipe Octopus à Lagareiro


1 kilo and a half of octopus

250 ml of olive oil

2 heads of garlic

1 onion

Salt q.s.

900 grams of small potatoes

2 bay leaves

White pepper



Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.

Put the octopus in a large pot with 5 liters of water, 5 ml of oil, a chopped garlic head and an unpeeled onion and cook for 40 minutes until tender.

Check by pricking with a fork in the thickest tentacles.

Season with salt and let cool in the water itself.

Separate the head from the tentacles and set aside in an optimal dish for oven.

Wash the potatoes well and wrap them in salt. To be soft, bake at 160 degrees for 35 minutes.

Shake the salt from the potatoes well and add to the tentacles. Increase the oven temperature to 180 degrees.

Sprinkle the octopus and potatoes with 200 milliliters of olive oil, distribute the crushed garlic cloves and bay leaves over the platter and sprinkle with white pepper.

Take it to the oven and when the octopus is very golden, it will be when it is ready.

Sprinkle the dish with chopped parsley and serve the octopus immediately.


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