A Rumble on the Ramblas: Botifarra, Chard with Saffron Allioli

By • May 25, 2011 9 Comments

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Author Notes: Some years ago friends and I arrived in Barcelona on a Saturday night. As it happened FC Barcelona was playing Real Madrid at the Nou Camp. This is a really big deal in Spain. It's as hard to get a ticket for this match as it is to get into El Bulli. And in typical Spanish fashion the game didn’t kick off until 10:00 pm. I watched half of the match from my hotel room in the Barrio Gotico and wandered over to the Ramblas for a meal. As I was finishing up the score came across that Barça had won. Within minutes there was an impromptu parade led by a wonky little brass band wearing the sort of striped jackets you might associate with barbers. Anyway it was a big party marching down the Ramblas. Somebody tell me when these people sleep!

Resurrecting those memories reminds of what I dined on while I was there. Botifarra is a mild, thick link of pork sausage. I’ll list sources, but if you care to grind it yourself there is not much more to it than pork shoulder, maybe some fat back as well as salt and black pepper. A spicy chorizo style doesn’t work here. DIY, it’s acceptable to make your own sausage without the casing and serve in patties.


Serves 2-4


  • 1 cup arbequina olive oil* (or other Spanish olive oil)
  • 5 (or more) cloves of garlic
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon fleur de del (or other sea salt)
  1. Being a lazy sod I use a blender or food processor for this job.
  2. Begin by chopping the garlic and then mash it into a paste along with the salt in a mortar. Add that to the bottom of your blender along with the egg yolks.
  3. Add the saffron.
  4. With the motor running SLOWLY drizzle in the arbequina oil until it becomes a mayonnaise you would recognize.
  5. *Note to cook, arbequinas are olives native to Catalonia and it’s fairly easy to find imported oil but I must add that the arbequina oils are being produced in California now and I really like the intensity of flavor you get from them.

Botifarra with chard

  • 2 large bunch swiss chard
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (sultanas)
  • 1 cup Spanish sherry
  • 2 peeled cloves garlic, in slivers
  • Light Spanish olive oil
  • 2 links Botifarra** or DIY homemade version if you like
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Soak the raisins in the sherry for at least 30 minutes. Strain and set aside.
  2. Wash the chard and trim out the stems (which can be saved). Roll leaves into big cigar shapes and the slice across into broad ribbons.
  3. In a dry skillet toast the pine nuts and set aside.
  4. Cook the sausage according to your preference; in a skillet or on a grill or in the oven. Keep warm.
  5. In a wide pan heat up some olive oil and lightly color the garlic. Add the chard with whatever rinse water still clings to the leaves. Cook as you would spinach until it softens. Add the pine nuts and raisins to the chard. Stir a few times and plate up with cooked botifarra on top.
  6. Serve with allioli on the side.
  7. **Because relatively few Spanish pork products can legally be sold in the United States it’s important to have a back up. La Española has been filling this vacuum for more than two decades with the regional sausages that they manufacture in their own plant. http://www.laespanolameats.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=main

More Great Recipes: Pork|Entrees|Swiss Chard