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Dining11/16/16
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Watch Octopus Get Tenderized in a Washing Machine

The secret to the staple at NYC's Avra Madison

Even at 10 a.m., the downstairs kitchen at NYC’s Avra Madison is buzzing with busy prep cooks, line cooks and dishwashers. While pans of cheesy potatoes are being pulled from the oven and trays of phyllo dough pastries are stacking up in speed racks, tucked into the farthest corner of the high-end Greek restaurants sprawling kitchen is a washing machine quietly chugging away.

It's not full of dirty linens or crusty chef whites, however; the sole purpose of this washing machine is to massage and tenderize the restaurant's grilled octopus.

True story: The octopus is so tender that upon tasting it, a TT editor asked the chef if it was chicken. The meaty texture has none of the chewiness expected from octopus. That’s all thanks to an hour-long massage in the washing machine and then a deep braise in the oven, after which it's slapped onto a hot grill.

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The kiss of smoke and char only amps up its meatiness. Once cooked, it’s lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and accompanied by fresh pops of bell pepper and salty capers, making it an endlessly refreshing and satisfying dish.