During the decade that Fleet Corporate Executive Chef Franck Garanger has been living in Valencia, he has become very passionate about learning how to cook true Valencian paella. To discover the way locals cook this famous national dish, he began traveling from village to village in Spain to watch paella competitions.
“I realized this was the best way to learn the grandmother secrets that make traditional paella so irresistible,” Chef Garanger said.
Along the way, Chef Garanger learned many things such as how important it is to start with sautéing the red bell pepper very slowly to flavor the oil and precisely following the order of adding ingredients. He also discovered how Valencianos crush the tomato and garlicusing a mortar, the traditional way of cutting the meat, and even having a sense of how to control the fire as the paella cooks.
“But more than anything else, as I cook this dish alongside chefs from all over Spain, I feel the passion, and the enormous sense of pride that goes into each giant pan of paella,” Chef Garanger said.
Next June, Chef Garanger will continue the paella competitions with a French team for the best paella in Dénia, a small village outside of Alicante.
“Though I have my doubts they would let a French team win,” he said, laughing. “After 10 years of living in Spain, I’m confident that I can make one of the best paellas in the village, so I hope you enjoy a taste of Valencia with my special recipe – it carries with it a piece of each Spanish village I’ve cooked in.”
Franck’s Paella Valenciana
2 tomatoes, quartered
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 sprigs flat parsley, chopped
7½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon saffron pistils
½ cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
¾ cup squid, sliced into rings
10 tiger prawns
¾ cup pork, cut in 2 1/2-inch cubes
1 ½ pounds chicken, cut into 10 pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons smoked Spanish paprika
(pimentón de la vera)
¾ cup flat beans
2 ½ cups Sarica Valencia paella rice
10 fresh black mussels
1/3 cup fava beans
2 lemons, quartered
FOR THE TOMATO BASE
Combine the fresh tomatoes with the garlic and crush using a mortar. Mix in the parsley and then set the tomato base aside.
FOR THE PAELLA
Heat the chicken stock and add the saffron pistils. Bring to a boil, and then set aside. In a paella pan, add oil, sauté the bell peppers on low heat until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. In the same pan, sear the squid and prawns. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
Add the diced pork, and olive oil, if necessary. Sauté on medium heat until golden brown, about
20 minutes. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Roast until chicken is cooked through. Deglaze with the tomato base and add the paprika. Add the flat beans to the pan and cook until all the water evaporates and it begins roasting again. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Mix in the saffron chicken stock and place the bell peppers on top.
Add the fresh mussels, prawns, squid, and fava beans. Bring to a boil and cook on high for approximately 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid evaporates and mussels open. Do not stir the rice in order to create the soccarat, or crispy crust, on the bottom. Garnish with lemon quarters.