One more favorite from '07: Valencian arroz negro

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My buddy Rob nearly gagged when he saw that I included Nazarlik among my favorite restaurants of 2007 in last week's Omnivorous. Then he handed me my head for not mentioning the Valencian arroz negro (black rice) he and his girlfriend, Kristina, prepared for a magnificent Spanish feast [scroll down] this summer. He was right -- that was wrong of me. The finished dish was a powerfully rich testament to the glory of squid. So here's the recipe direct from his Spanish friend Rafa, which he and Kristina tripled to fill a paella pan (a ladle is cup).

1 small onion
1/3 of a green pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 ripe tomatoes
2 ladles of rice
4 1/2 ladles of fish broth, hot
1/2 lb. each fresh squid and shrimp
squid ink

Start sauteeing the onion and the pepper, chopped very finely. When they are beginning to sweat, add the garlic, also chopped finely, and let it fry a little. Add the tomato, peeled and chopped small, and let the sauce reduce and thicken. Include the shrimp, peeled, and the squid, cleaned and rinsed well under cold water, then cut into small pieces. When that begins to cook, remove the squid and shrimp, add the squid ink in the quantity necessary to get the degree of blackness you want (a little goes a long way), and cook till until everything gets black. Add the rice and mix it all on high fire, then add the hot broth. Keep it on high fire until it boils strongly, then start decreasing the fire so the boiling evens out. Adjust for salt. Keep it boiling smoothly for 15 minutes or until you see it getting dry. If you see it drying out too fast, reduce the fire and slow down the boiling. Stick a spoon in the middle of the pan and see if you still have liquid. Taste for the doneness of the rice. It must be al dente on top. Take the pan off the fire, cover it with foil or an open supermarket paper bag, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The stronger you get the fish broth, the better the taste of the rice.

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