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Secret Recipe: Calamars a la Planxa with Arròs Negre from Contigo

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Contigo in Noe Valley is known for its crisp cava offerings and Cal-Spanish tapas. But what keeps us coming back is their calamari a la planxa with arros negre. The seared squid and black rice is tender and perfectly spiced. Serve it as an entree for four to six people or as a tapa for a party of 12.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

Salt

2 plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

4 1/2 - 5 cups fish stock

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 small Spanish chorizo, such as Palacios brand, diced small

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 tablespoon squid ink

1 1/2 cups calasparra, bomba, or other small-grained rice

3 pounds squid, cleaned and separated into bodies and tentacles

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. If at any time the onions start to get too dark, add a splash of water. Add the chopped tomato and paprika, and cook for 20 more minutes until the oil separates from the sauce. This is called the sofregit. Set aside.

2. In another small pot, bring the fish stock to simmer.

3. Finely mince the garlic and parsley together, and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. This is called the picada. Set aside.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 14- to 16-inch paella pan or other large shallow pan over medium-high heat. Add chorizo, and cook for a few minutes. Then add the reserved sofregit and optional chili flakes, and cook another minute. Add squid ink, stir, and immediately add 4 1/2 cups of the fish stock. Taste broth, and add salt if needed. The broth should be well-seasoned. Turn the heat up to high, and stir in the reserved picada, and evenly sprinkle in the rice. Do not stir again. Do not cover the pan. Maintain a vigorous simmer over high heat for 5 minutes. Rice should be floating around the pan at this point. If it’s not, add the extra 1/2 cup of stock.

5. While the rice is cooking, preheat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. This is your planxa.

6. Reduce the paella pan heat to low, and simmer for 10-13 more minutes, until the rice has absorbed all the stock and is al punto, with just a little bite to it. Remove the pan from the heat, cover the rice with paper towels, and let rest for 5 minutes.

7. While the rice rests, season the squid bodies and tentacles with salt, and quickly sear them with 1 tablespoon oil for about 1 minute on each side, more or less, depending on the size of your squid. Remove squid to a bowl, and add lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Spread cooked squid over the top of the rice, and serve.