Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Savory Crepes with Creamy Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Filling

If you remember, last month I went to visit my parent's in Connecticut. We visited the River Tavern restaurant in Chester and had an amazing lunch. I had some amazing shrimp crepes and my Mom tried to track down a similar recipe and recreate it at home. She found this recipe from Emeril Lagasse and although it's not quite the same as what we had for lunch there, I think this may be one of my new favorite foods!

I really haven't played around much with savory crepes before but I think this one may get me going down that path more often. The inside of the crepe is a mixture of juicy chicken, fresh shiitake mushrooms, bacon, shallots and a rich creamy sauce. The remaining cream is then combined with gruyere and spread over the top of the crepes and then finally fresh parmesan sprinkled over the top. The tarragon in it gives it the perfect final seasoning and all together this makes an almost perfect dinner.

A few changes I made from Emeril's recipe: I poached the chicken by covering it in water, mixing in some tarragon and microwaved it until barely cooked through. I think this makes the chicken juicier than when you cook it in the skillet, especially when it's just going to be cut up and mixed in with the other ingredients. Also I used bacon instead of ham. I cooked the bacon, drained all but about two tablespoons of fat and then used that pan to cook the shallots and garlic. I did cook it in the casserole as the recipe says to and it worked well like that but it's definitely not the prettiest dish. I think if I was making it for a dinner party, I would create maybe two crepes on a plate, drizzle it with the sauce and cheese and then broil each plate. I think it would look better this way and still capture all the flavor of the original.

Savory Crepes with Creamy Chicken, Bacon and Mushroom Filling
adapted from Food Network


12 Crepes, recipe follows
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock, hot
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon milk
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Essence, recipe follows
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
8 ounces mushrooms (such as button and shiitake), stems trimmed, wiped clean, and roughly chopped
1/4 pound baked ham, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup dry sherry  ( I substituted apple juice)
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 cup grated Gruyere
3/4 cup grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a glass 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened into a pale blond roux, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot stock in a steady stream, whisking to incorporate. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently with a heavy wooden spoon until thick. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper, and stir to incorporate. Slowly whisk in the cream and simmer, stirring, until well incorporated and thickened. Remove from the heat and very lightly film the top with the milk to prevent a skin from forming.

In a large saute pan or skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the diced chicken, season lightly with Essence, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. To the fat and juices in the pan add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring, until they have given off their water and are starting to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the sherry and bring to a boil, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the tarragon and green onions, and return the chicken to the pan. Stir well to blend and cook until the sherry has evaporated. Reduce the heat to low and stir in enough of the cream sauce to bind and thicken, 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Place the crepes on a work surface. One at a time, spoon the filling along the bottom third of each crepe, about 3 tablespoons per crepe, and roll into a cylinder to enclose the filling. Place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining crepes.

To the remaining cream sauce, add the Gruyere and stir to incorporate. Spoon the sauce evenly over the crepes. (NOTE: The crepes can be tightly covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for 3 days at this point. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Bake until warmed through and the top starts to become bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the Parmesan. Bake until the cheese is melted and the topping is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place in a chafing dish holder or on trivets. Serve hot, 1 to 2 crepes per person.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons whole milk
Pinch salt
6 teaspoons melted unsalted butter

Whisk together the flour, eggs, milk, and 4 1/2 teaspoons of the butter to form a smooth, thin batter. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding.

Heat a heavy 6-inch skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. When hot, brush with a light coating of the remaining butter. Ladle about 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the pan, tilting the skillet to evenly coat the pan with batter. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and the top begins to look dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn the crepe and cook on the second side just until the bottom colors slightly, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with waxed paper to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Assemble as directed in the Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Crepes. (Alternatively, make ahead and when cool, layer between sheets of waxed paper and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 3 days.)


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