Entrees Side Dishes/Appetizers

Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham & Gruyère (France)

One of the things I love most about French food are the crêpes. Sweet or savory, I love them all (I’m also currently listening to the Ratatouille soundtrack as I write this which is definitely making me yearn for a trip to France all the more).

While I had made crêpes a couple of years ago, those had been made using all-purpose flour and so being a lighter flour, they more resembled pancakes. But this past week I came across a recipe for buckwheat crêpes and after recently reading Mastering the Art of French Eating in which one of the chapters is devoted to the Normandy crêpe (the regions of Brittany and Normandy are where the buckwheat crêpe originated), I was happy to try this famous food out myself. (A little historical anecdote-as you can see from the picture below, buckwheat flour is much darker than standard flour and so buckwheat crêpes were originally concocted by peasants as buckwheat flour was cheaper.)

Crêpe making is not the easiest thing (well, it’s obviously effortless to make the crêpe batter, however, successfully flipping them is another story). I did have a crêpe pan (it looks like this) which I think helped matters but of the four crêpes I made, only one came out flawless after flipping it (the third one, go figure). They all came together nicely after I had folded them over but a chef still likes to see her creations look perfect at all stages, n’est pas?

And last but not least, don’t scrimp by substituing another cheese. You simply must splurge and go with the Gruyère.

Buckwheat Crêpes with Ham & Gruyère

recipe courtesy of Rick Rogeres’ Breakfast Comforts 

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 eggs
Sea salt
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil for cooking
1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
Thin slices of Black Forest ham
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a blender, combine 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the milk, the eggs, and the salt. Add the buckwheat flour and all-purpose flour and process until smooth, occasionally stopping the blender to scrape down the sides as necessary. Pour into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. 

Lightly oil an 8-inch crepe or nonstick frying pan and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons milk to the batter and whisk well. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and the tilt the pan to cover the bottom evenly. Drizzle a little batter into any holes. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip and cook the other side until golden, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan as needed and stacking the crepes, separated by wax paper, as they are ready. (The crepes can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered with plastic wrap and regifergated.) 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Place 1 crepe on a work surface. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the cheese then top with a slice of ham. Fold the crepe in half. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining crepes, cheese, and ham. Brush the tops of the filled crepes with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Bake just until hot throughout, about 5 minutes. 

Serve at once. 

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