Citizens, as we ease into Autumn, I feel the need to share the recipe for one of my favorite dishes of the season! Crêpes Forestière are “simply” crepes filled with mushrooms, bacon and cheese. They are a classic recipe of French cuisine, and this particular version is from the province of Normandy home to the finest Apples in all of France.
Note the use of the quotes – this recipe may appear simple, but it will be successful solely on your use of the finest available ingredients!
I can only barely make my own stamp on this recipe, as it has already been taken to its zenith! My two changes are that I prefer wild mushrooms to common button mushrooms and have added a touch of fresh thyme – it is otherwise identical to the one created by Clémentine Perrin‑Chattard, Les Meilleures Crêpes et Galettes, 1996, page 18.
I also strongly recommend you check out the fantastic blog where I first found this recipe, “a la carte” by Peter Hertzmann, found here. It is a true and devoted shrine to the glory that is French cuisine!
As noted from his site:
“Crêpes are usually made out of all-purpose wheat flour, buckwheat flour, or a combination of the two. Other flours are also used on occasion to achieve a certain taste or effect, but these crêpes are less common. On occasion, the term “crêpe” will be applied to other preparations served in the form of a crêpe.
Although each of the recipes presented in this article contains its own crêpe batter recipe, the preparation of the batter is essentially the same. The dry ingredients are mixed together. The egg is then thoroughly mixed, using a wooden spoon or spatula, with the dry ingredients. This creates a stiff paste. The liquid ingredients are then slowly added to this paste to first loosen it, and finally to dilute it to a batter consistency.
At this point, I usually switch from a wooden spoon to a whisk to speed up the mixing. When mixed, the batter is allowed to rest so the flour swells completely. Before using, it may be necessary to dilute the batter further because sometimes it will thicken as it rests. This method of preparing a batter is in contrast to the manner of preparing a standard American pancake batter where the dry ingredients are added to the wet ingredients and everything is mixed together.
The crêpe batter recipe is only a guide. The consistency of the batter will vary with the weather, age of the flour used, and time allowed for resting. With a little experience, it is possible to judge the consistency after the batter has rested and to dilute it with a little water, milk, or cider, depending on the recipe. One way to judge the batter is to make a test crêpe to see how thick the cooked crêpe will be. This can also be helpful for the beginning crêpe chef to judge the proper heat to use for cooking the crêpe.
For the recipes presented, various size crêpes are required. These can easily be prepared in nonstick frying pans or with a pan designed specifically for crêpe preparation. These crêpe pans are available with a nonstick surface or with a plain surface that requires seasoning. If you’re lucky enough to have a real French, gas-fired crêpe stove — that’s even better. However, I would avoid the self-heating gadget-type crêpe pans popular in the 1960s because they are designed for making only one size of crêpe.
To turn a batch of batter into crêpes that are consistently the same size, I use a ladle for adding the batter to the crêpe pan. Restaurant supply stores sell inexpensive portion control ladles that make it easy to consistently create the same size crêpe. For a 6-inch diameter crêpe I use a 30 ml (1 oz) ladle; for a 7-inch diameter crêpe, a 60 ml (2 oz) ladle; for a 10-inch diameter crêpe, a 90 ml (3 oz) ladle; and for a 12-inch diameter crêpe, a 120 ml (4 oz) ladle.
If you’ve ever had a crêpe from one of the many sidewalk crêpe stands in Paris, you’ve seen the batter spread on the cooking surface with a wooden squeegee. For most home use, this device is too large. I’ve found that a plastic scraper can be used in a similar manner to produce the same effect. I use the narrow end of the scraper to spread the batter to the size of crêpe that I plan to make.
This is especially helpful for larger crêpes. With small, thin crêpes it is often sufficient to tilt the pan to spread the batter. Thinner batters are easier to spread by tilting than thicker batters. The Paris vendors often use a wooden spatula for flipping the crêpe. I have found that when using a nonstick pan, it is only necessary to lift one edge of the crêpe with a plastic spatula so I can lift the whole crêpe with my fingers and flip it. The crêpe is hot, but not too hot to handle.
As I stated earlier, judging the proper heat to use for cooking the crêpes comes with experience. The telltale sign I use to know when to flip the crêpe from the first side to the second is when the edges start to crisp and brown slightly. When making a particular crêpe batter for the first time, it helps to prepare a little extra batter so the first one or two crêpes can be used for adjusting the heat.”
TFD would suggest serving this with some of your best available local apple cider, Citizens! I prefer Gravenstein Apple Cider from a local cidery in Sonoma County, made from 100-year old trees!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
120 g (4 oz) assorted wild mushrooms, trimmed, peeled, thinly sliced (TFD change – original called for common button mushrooms)
1 T minced flat‑leaf parsley
1 T minced fresh thyme leaves (TFD addition to original recipe, which does not include it)
2 small cloves garlic, germ removed and minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bacon, diced, lightly cooked
60 g (2 oz) grated Gruyère cheese
Pâte lisse de crêpe:
30 g (3 ⅓ T) all‑purpose flour
40 g (4 ½ T) buckwheat flour
1 pinch fine salt
1 extra‑large egg
100 ml (6 ¾ T) Normandy‑style cider
30+ ml (2 T) water
½ T oil
1. For pâte lisse de crêpe: Mix flours and salt. Add egg and mix with a wooden spoon. Slowly add cider and water, mix until smooth. Incorporate oil. Set batter aside for an hour before using.
2. Preheat oven to 75°C (170°F).
3. Heat butter and oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they are cooked and the water they have exuded has evaporated. Add parsley, thyme and garlic and cook a bit more. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Keep warm.
4. Using 90‑ml (6‑T) portions of batter, make a 25‑cm (10‑in) diameter crêpe. After flipping the crêpe from the first side to the second, add half the mushroom mixture, bacon, and cheese to one half of the cooking crepe. When the second side is cooked, fold the half without the cheese over the other half to form a semi‑circle. Set aside in the oven to keep warm. Prepare one more crêpe in the same manner.
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