September 19, 2009

Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Crepes

Upon deciding to begin this culinary journey, I knew that I wanted to challenge myself with new techniques, ones that I had yet to attempt. The art of crepe making has been high on that list for quite some time. The Parisian staple has always intrigued me with its delicate texture that is complementary of both sweet and savory dishes.  Though most of my experience with eating crepes has been in the dessert arena (crepes with nutella and sliced bananas- yes please!), I felt more enthralled to try a savory version for my first endeavor.  A recipe source I often turn to is Cooking Light.  I think they do a great job of giving classic recipes a lighter, more healthful makeover.  (As much time as I spend in the kitchen, it's not only a wise decision to choose lighter recipes, but also necessary.)  I will admit that I never usually follow Cooking Light's recipes to a tee though.  They never seem to produce as many servings as the recipes claim (unless perhaps you have the appetite of a 4 year old- I do not), and the most tasty (read: most calorie laden) ingredient is often used in extremely scant proportions.  However, I came across a recipe from Cooking Light for chicken, spinach, and mushroom crepes, that seemed like a good starting point for my first savory crepe dish.

The batter came together in a pinch, with the help of a blender, but things started to slow down from here.  One should note that the batter needs to chill for one hour- an important detail I did not become aware of until after I decided to start this recipe at 8 o'clock at night. (Needless to say I ate a very late dinner that night.)  After the batter is chilled, each crepe has to be made individually, a rather time consuming process. My first few crepes, I regret to say, were less than unsightly. Flipping the frail, flimsy things was much harder than I anticipated!  They kept tearing and sticking and folding into themselves. No spatula or any other kitchen gadget I creatively tried to use helped to appease the situation. It turns out that the most effective tool I had on hand (literally) was my fingers.  Using a gentle touch and quickly grasping the edge of the crepe, turning it onto its other side, culminated in a perfectly golden, tear-free crepe. Don't worry, after your fingers are sufficiently numb- and perhaps an expletive or two is thrown about- the process begins to move much more swiftly.  

The filling consists of onions, mushrooms, spinach, and chicken (I used a rotisserie).  I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding in a couple spoon-fulls of cream cheese and a few crumbled bacon slices, because, well, everything is better with bacon.  A white sauce, essentially a béchamel, is then added into the mixture, before being folded into a crepe-like parcel, topped with cheese, and broiled in the oven.  The end result was tasty, but somehow familiar... like chicken enchiladas on vacation in Paris- a classic Mexican dish parading around in French flavors.  

However, I did find this Parisian inspired version to be a little dry. Most enchiladas are accompanied by a sauce, be it a mole or tomatillo.  So, the following night, before reheating my leftover crepes, I decided to make another batch of the béchamel sauce that was originally added into the chicken and mushroom mixture, only this time I added a few flavor components (see recipe below).  The idea I had in mind here, is that one could double the recipe for the sauce and use half for the filling, while reserving the other half to top the finished crepes.  But I decided to take it one step further, by adding in gruyere cheese to the finished béchamel, resulting in a Mornay sauce.  The final product: enchiladas that just may claim France as their permanent residence.  

Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Crepes
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 (10-ounce) package presliced mushrooms
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/4 cup sliced green onions
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
2 oz 1/3 less-fat Philadelphia cream cheese (optional)
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Béchamel Sauce, divided (recipe below)
10 Basic Crepes (recipe below)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan and allow to heat for 2 minutes. Add sliced onion and mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until mushrooms release their moisture and darken. Stir in chicken, green onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, spinach, cream cheese (optional), and bacon (also optional).

Add half ( about 1 1/2 cups ) of the prepared béchamel sauce to chicken mixture, reserving the rest of the sauce for later use; stir to combine.

Spoon about 1/2 cup chicken mixture in the center of each crepe; fold ends and sides over. Finish with either option 1 or option 2.

Option 1) Preheat broiler. Place crepes, seam side down, in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle crepes evenly with the mozzarella cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Finish by topping plated crepes with reserved béchamel sauce.

Option 2) Continue with béchamel recipe to make a Mornay sauce. Place 2 crepes on each dish and top with Mornay sauce.

Makes 5 servings; 2 crepes per serving

Béchamel Sauce

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
2 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground white pepper (a little goes a long way!)
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

1. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic to pan and cook 5 minutes longer or until onions and garlic are tender (do not brown), stirring occasionally. Sprinkle flour over onion; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Gradually add milk to flour mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth; bring to a simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Strain mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl; discard solids.

3. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately.

To Make Mornay Sauce: Prepare Béchamel Sauce. Wipe pan clean with paper towels. Return reserved Béchamel Sauce to pan, and place over medium-low heat. Add 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese, stirring until smooth. Serve immediately. Yield: 1 1/2 cups (serving size: about 2 1/2 tablespoons).

Basic Crepes
This recipe works for both sweet and savory crepe applications.

1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup low-fat 1% milk
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons butter, melted
2 large eggs

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Combine milk, water, melted butter, and eggs in a blender. Add the flour mixture to milk mixture, and process until smooth. Cover batter; chill for 1 hour.

Heat an 8-inch nonstick crepe pan or skillet over medium heat. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into pan; quickly tilt pan in all directions so batter covers pan with a thin film. Cook about 1 minute. Carefully lift the edge of the crepe with a spatula to test for doneness. The crepe is ready to turn when it can be shaken loose from the pan and the underside is lightly browned. Turn crepe over, and cook for 30 seconds or until center is set.

Place crepe on a towel; cool completely. Repeat procedure with the remaining batter, stirring batter between crepes. Stack crepes between single layers of wax paper to prevent sticking (make sure crepes are completely cool before stacking, or they will become soggy).

Makes 10 crepes

Tip: Crepes can be stacked between single layers of wax paper and stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer for up to one month!

1 comment :

  1. Karlie:
    This recipe sounds great. I love the combination of spinach and mushrooms in just about anything. Why has Google added other choices on your blog? It hasn't been there before. Mimi