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Arròs Negre {Black Paella} with Allioli a la Catalana


After my paella dinner this weekend - Juan's Paella + Carigane Rosé -  I still had leftover ingredients. I had initially planned to make two pans of paella, but both pans did not fit on the stovetop at the same time. So, I decided to do an encore dinner with a slight change: I used cuttlefish ink for a black version. Please note that this is not wholly traditional; I didn't use any squid, for example. But it was so delicious that I wanted to share what I made!

Allioli a la Catalana

Allioli, akin to the French Aioli, is an incredibly versatile sauce or emulsion that's ubiquitous across Spain. It's eaten with fish, meat, and vegetables and is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle. My version is made in the food processor, but it's still as rich and creamy.

Ingredients for Allioli a la Catalana
  • 3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 organic lemon, juiced
  • 1 C olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper


Procedure for Allioli a la Catalana
Put garlic and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or in a blender. Pulse 2 or 3 times. Add the egg yolk and lemon juice. Pulse until blended. Turn the food processor on low and add the olive oil in a thin stream through the access chute. If it becomes too thick, thin it out with some water and continue streaming in the oil until it's all used.


Spoon the allioli into a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Arròs Negre serves 8

My friends who taught me how to make paella had told us about the black paella that's made with seafood and squid ink. We love it!


Ingredients for Arròs Negre
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled 
  • 8 T olive oil (Juan told me 1 T per serving)
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 to 6 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1/2 C bell pepper, deseeded and chopped (I used a yellow bell pepper)
  • 3 ripe, organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 C Spanish paella rice
  • 1 generous pinch saffon
  • 1 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachet+ 
  • 2 T squid or cuttlefish ink
  • 5 to 6 C fish stock, warmed

+Juan used this and they brought some back from Spain for me, so I use it. But, in a pinch, you can add a blend of paprika, pepper, and clove to the pot. These packets also include a food coloring that makes regular paella a rich golden color. For this black paella, the food coloring isn't so crucial.


Procedure for Arròs Negre
Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Cook the chicken through. Stir in the garlic. Add onions and bell pepper. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they have lost their shape slightly, approximately 6 to 7 minutes.

Sprinkle the seasoning packet into the pot and add the saffron to the side so it's not where the heat is most concentrated. Stir in the cuttlefish ink so it's spread throughout the pan.

Tip in the rice. Arrange the shrimp so they are in a single layer, nestled into the rice. Pour in the stock. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan instructed me: "This is not risotto."

Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning it so that the rice cooks evenly. As it cooks, the stock will be fully absorbed.

You will see fewer and fewer bubbles popping up through the top. When it is completely dry, it's done. The rice should also be crackling. It reminds me of rice krispies. Snap, crackle, and pop!

When you no longer see any bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 minutes.

To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the soccarat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your soccarat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan!
Serve with a dollop of allioli on top and more on the side.

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