Introduction: Cthulhu Berry Pie, Aka OctoPie or Octopus Pie
This pie is an eldritch horror, and the perfect dish for your next Campus Crusade for Cthulhu potluck*.
The CthulhuBerry Pie, a type of Octopus Pie or OctoPie, is a sweet confection that is simultaneously fruity and totally tentacular. It's a remarkably easy pie, provided you can lay hands on both an octopus and a sous vide cooker, as well as some Cthulhuberries.
Join the Cult of Cthulhu and follow these easy steps to awaken Dread Cthulhu from his slumber, and ensure that he is merciful and eats you first**.
*Or Halloween, or even Thanksgiving or Christmas if you really want to annoy your family.
**Or last, depending on your definition of mercy.
***Short for Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn, which roughly translates to "In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
Step 1: Tools and Ingredients
Vacuum sealer & bags (or ziplock bags and the Bernoulli principle)
Sous vide cooker
Knife and cutting board
sense of ominous foreboding
1 3-5lb octopus, cleaned (may come fresh or frozen)
2 cups berries (fresh or frozen, any type - I prefer red or black for bloody color contrast)
1/8 teaspoon allspice (substitute spice of your choice that goes well with berries)
1 teaspoon cornstarch (add up to 1 more if your berries are extremely juicy)
pinch of salt
juice and zest of 1/2 fresh lemon
2 pie crusts (you can use my favorite recipe, or buy pre-made if you're feeling lazy or short on time.)
1 egg yolk (optional)
1 teaspoon cream (optional)
Step 2: Cook Octopus
Rinse octopus, removing any ice if it came frozen, and cut in half, and place in vacuum bag. Weigh the octopus, and add 5% sugar and 0.5% salt by weight. (This means for each 100g of octopus you add 5g of sugar and 0.5g salt.)
Seal bag, and send Cthulhu down to sleep in R'lyeh until the planets align, or place octopus in sous vide at 175F overnight. I cooked mine for around 8-9 hours.
Remove from cooker and chill in ice water bath. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 3: Prep Pie Crusts
Roll out both of your pie crusts, and place the first into the bottom of your pie plate. Store the second draped loosely across your rolling pin, or another non-sticky out-of-the way place. Check for signs and/or portents.
Step 4: Prepare Octopus
Bathe Lord Cthulhu with appropriate ceremony!
Remove octopus from sous vide bag and rinse under cold water, rubbing along the back of each arm to remove the loose skin and connective tissue. (The connective tissue gives a weird mouth feel and can distract from the visual presentation of the dish.)
Cut off the head, and chop into chunks. Reserve the most picturesque tentacles, and chop the rest up into chunks. I save a few whole tentacles, including one pair, and kept the lower half of several more. YMMV.
Step 5: Prepare Filling
Coarsely chop about 1.5 cups berries, and combine with the chopped octopus. There should be slightly more berries than octopus in the mix.
Add allspice, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch, then mix to thoroughly combine.
Place into filled crust. Remember not to over-fill, as you'll need room to add tentacles later.
Step 6: Add Second Pie Crust
Cover pie loosely with your second pie crust. Tuck it down around the inside edge (this will give your berries a visible place to "bleed" as they cook) and crimp the edges together.
Mix the egg yolk and cream to produce an egg wash, and coat the top of your pie. Check out this nice reference for egg wash components vs desired color/effect.
Step 7: Prep Tentacle Hole
Use a sharp knife to cut a hole for your tentacles. Size should reflect the size and number of tentacles you saved.
Gently roll the edges away from your hole, and use supports to hold them in place as you'd like them to cook. I used foil balls to support the underside of the pie crust, and popsicle sticks to gently weight the tops down. I chose not to use toothpicks to avoid unsightly holes.
Step 8: Bake Pie
Check your oven is at 350F, and stick your pie right in there.
It should cook for roughly 40 minutes, but check back every 10 minutes or so to check on the status of your flaps, and rotate the pie for even browning. About 15 minutes in I noticed the flaps were browning too quickly, and covered them with a foil tent to prevent burning. This worked very well.
When your pie is properly golden-brown (egg wash!) and the berry juices have bubbled up in picturesque fashion, remove your pie from the oven, and place on the counter or a rack to cool.
Check surrounding roofs for shoggoths. Do not on any account burst into song.
Step 9: Add Tentacles
Gently remove all protections and props from your pie's exit wound while the pie is still quite hot, being careful not to crack off the flaps. (The hotter the pie, the more flex remains in the crust flaps.)
Grab your tentacles, and artfully arrange them in the hole. Start with the biggest tentacles (or pair of tentacles) and fill in with smaller ones - they can also help support potentially droopy large tentacles. Do this while the pie is still quite warm/hot as you want the filling and crust to be as flexible as possible to accommodate the added tentacles. When the pie cools, it will congeal/coagulate around the tentacles and better hold them in place.
If it's more than an hour before serving, refrigerate pie until ready to serve. (It's not smart to leave octopus or other seafood out at room temperature very long.) (Also, Cthulhu must rise at the appointed time. Do not presume to interfere.)
Step 10: Serve!
Find a nice big stone slab, serving tray, or cutting board to display your masterpiece. Find some good light, and take pictures. (You need pictures - your pie is covered in tentacles. It can't help but look amazing.)
Cut slices from the non-tentacled side first, then inch toward the tentacles. Pull out a tentacle, and offer slices to those who can't commit to an entire piece of pie.
Warm CthulhuBerry Pie goes well with ice cream.
Also, save any unused tentacles! Children love tentacles (see proof above), and I'll be posting more unusual recipes for octopus shortly.
Step 11: Pier 9 Bake-Off
The CthulhuBerry Pie, aka OctopPie, won first prize in day 3 of the 2014 Pier 9 bake-off. Day 1 was traditional, Day 2 was chocolate, and Day 3 was for the weird stuff. And we definitely got plenty of weird stuff, knocking out the previous days for participation. (Check image notes to identify each entry.)
It was a photo finish between the CthulhuBerry Pie and Dot's Allergic to Everything Cake (zoom in to see the list of allergens included), but the judges were forced to break the tie, and tentacles won.
Thanks to Andy and Isabelle for organizing! This was far too much fun, and a great excuse to make the octopus pie I'd been dreaming about for months, as well as a (semi-) reasonable to say totally tentacular. Repeatedly.