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DJ Frenchy le Freak’s Paella

DJ Frenchy le Freak’s Paella

One of my good friends, DJ Frenchy Le Freak, makes the best paella. He’s very serious about it and makes it just the way he learned from his mother. So that I could learn how to make it, I asked him to bring his paella equipment to our house and told him I would gather the ingredients. Paella needs to be cooked and served right away. If you have all the ingredients set out ahead of time, you can build the dish in front of your guests and make it part of your evening together. Chantal and I love Frenchy’s paella so much that I included it in the third season of Secrets of a Chef. You can find paella rice, Spanish chorizo, piquillo peppers, and saffron in specialty food shops and online.
Serves 10 to 12

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 small chickens (about 5 pounds total), each cut into serving pieces
12 extra-large shrimp (16-20 count), heads on, tails peeled, and shells reserved
2 large yellow onions (8to 10 ounces each), thinly sliced
9 cloves garlic, finely chopped, plus 1 whole clove garlic
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups low-salt chicken broth
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large squid, about 6 inches long cleaned
1 slab pork baby back ribs (about 1 ¾ pounds), cut into individual ribs
1 (14 ½ ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons saffron (threads or ground)
3 cups Bomba Spanish paella rice (or long-grain white rice)
4 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/4 –inch-thick rounds
3 pints fresh clams in their shell
1 cup sweet green peas
4 roasted piquillo peppers, or roasted sweet red bell peppers
1 quart fresh mussels (optional)
1 heirloom tomato
1 baguette, cut diagonally into about 10 to 12 (1/2-inch thick) slices and toasted
10 to 12 very thin slices Serrano ham

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add any chicken bones or trimmings and the shrimp shells. Sear the pieces until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat and return the pan to the heat. Add one-fourth of the onions, along with one-third of the chopped garlic, the bay leaves, and the thyme. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the browned bits and cook until the onions have softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the chicken broth, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook, uncovered for about 5 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises to the surfaces. Continue to simmer gently for at least 20 to 25 minutes and up to 1 hour. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer and reserve. Discard the solids. If using immediately, skim off the fat. Otherwise, let cool, cover, refrigerate, and lift off the fat once it has solidified.

Cut the tentacles off of the squid bodies and then slice the bodies into 1-inch rings. Heat another 2 tablespoons of the oil in a very large paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the squid rings and tentacles, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and stir and cook just until the squid turns opaque, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the squid to a bowl and set it aside.
Add another 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the remaining onions and garlic and cook until the onions have turned translucent and begun to brown lightly, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a separate bowl and set them aside.
Season the chicken pieces and pork ribs with about 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and pork and sear on all sides until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Cook in batches if necessary.
Tilt the pan and spoon off and discard the fat. Add the tomatoes and stir and scrape to get up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the squid, onions and garlic, chicken and pork ribs, and reserved stock. Stir in the saffron, cover the pan with a tight fitting lid or aluminum foil, and let it cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
Stir in the rice and chorizo, re-cover, and cook for 15 more minutes. Uncover and taste the rice to judge how tender it is. When it has just a few minutes to go, add the clams, shrimp, peas, piquillo peppers, and mussels. Push and stir all the ingredients into the rice and liquid so they cook evenly. Re-cover and cook just until the shrimp are cooked, the clams and mussels have opened, and the rice is thoroughly tender, another 3 to 4 minutes.
While the paella cooks, cut the heirloom tomato in half and rub it over both sides of the baguette slices. Then rub the slices with the remaining whole clove garlic. Top each slice of baguette with a slice of ham and serve one to each person with the paella.
Because it is such a great party dish, I always make paella for a crowd, but you can cut the recipe in half for smaller gatherings. You need a very large pan for this amount of ingredients, but you can also use 2 (14 to 16 inch) paella pans or deep wide skillets or 2 large Dutch ovens.
You can’t reheat paella. Unfortunately, in many restaurants, what you get is reheated paella. Once you’ve had paella freshly cooked, you understand what an amazing dish it is
Hubert Keller
Chef & Owner
Fleur de Lys
Fleur by Hubert Keller
Burger Bar

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