It may be a week late for Pancake Tuesday but I’ve actually been meaning to try these crepes from Southern France for a long time. Originally a peasant dish originating in Genoa comprising just chickpea flour, olive oil and water, I first read about them in the Balthazar cookbook (you can even see my copy in the background of the picture below).
Naturally, given the treatment they gave that other Italian staple, polenta, the authors weren’t content to stick to such an austere ingredient list and instead supplement their batter with white flour, cream and eggs. Unfortunately I didn’t have any cream so I just substituted water and rather than olive oil I made an executive decision and used melted butter instead.
In its raw state the batter actually tastes somewhat unpleasant, almost vegetal, but once cooked there’s a lovely, subtle nuttiness and a slightly crispier texture than you get with standard wheat only versions. I tried to keep the pancakes as thin as possible out of personal preference but I think traditionally they would be a bit heftier and usually finished in the oven. I apologise to any socca purists in advance for all these bastardisations!
For the stuffing, I thought it would be interesting to eschew a more conventional cream sauce and use a thin puree of roasted parsnip instead and it worked really well. The main thing to worry about here is excessive sweetness from the caramelised vegetables so a good shot of cider vinegar at the end gives some acidity to counteract that.
For the pancake batter
150g chickpea flour
50g white flour
30g butter, melted
For the filling
Grape seed oil
250g parsnips, chopped, woody cores removed
400g large mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme
75g smoked bacon, diced
2.5g Worcestershire sauce
5ml cider vinegar
- For the pancake batter, pour the flour and salt into a bowl.
- Whisk the egg and water together and pour slowly into the flour, whisking constantly to form a batter and prevent lumps forming.
- Leave the batter to rest for at least 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, for the filling, preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Place the parsnips in a roasting tray and coat with oil.
- Roast the parsnips in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and starting to caramelise.
- When done, place the parsnips in a blender with the milk and butter and process to a loose, smooth puree (add more milk if necessary, you want it to have the consistency of a béchamel sauce).
- Add the mushrooms to a pan over a medium heat with some salt and water and cover.
- Allow to cook for around five minutes, until the mushrooms have released a lot of water.
- Drain the mushrooms, reserving the released mushroom water, and clean and dry the pan before returning it to a high heat.
- When the pan is very hot, pour some oil and add the mushrooms, bacon and thyme, stirring occasionally.
- When the bacon and mushrooms are nicely browned, around 3-4 minutes, take off the heat.
- Add the garlic and stir constantly so it doesn’t burn for around two minutes.
- Return the pan to a high heat and deglaze the pan with the reserved mushroom water and Worcestershire sauce.
- When most of the liquid has evaporated, add the parsnip puree and mix thoroughly.
- Add the cider vinegar and adjust the seasoning if required.
- Preheat the oven to 150°C and whisk the melted butter into the batter.
- Heat a small non-stick frying pan until very hot and then turn the heat down to medium.
- Lightly grease with oil and then ladle in enough batter to coat the base of the pan thinly (approximately 30-40ml), tilting the pan so the mixture spreads evenly.
- Cook over a moderate heat for 1-2 minutes or until the batter looks dry on the top and begins to brown at the edges.
- Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook the second side for another 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat these steps until you have 6 pancakes.
- Place a line of the mushroom filling down the centre a pancake and fold into a roll.
- Repeat for the other pancakes and place in the rolls in a tray in the oven to reheat (the pancakes will have gone cold) for a few minutes.
- Divide between two plates and serve with a green salad.