Posted by johngl
I haven’t made crêpes in a couple of decades and a recent visit to Aquarelle Restaurant Français inspired me to tune up my long-idle technique. Making crêpes is really pretty easy — quite like pancakes — and once you get down the proper technique, they’re a snap.
Crêpes come in two types: savory and sweet. Since I’m not making dessert, I’m going to go for the savory ones.
Butt weight, before we get to the crêpes, we gotta get the duck into the right condition.
Having a couple of roasted ducks waiting in my freezer just for such an occasion made it easier.
I also keep some home-rendered lard in my fridge.
I spooned out the lard into my favorite confit pan (a 10″ All-Clad sauté), got it to melting a bit, then inserted the duck halves.
With this particular pan and this size of duck, I can minimize the amount of lard it takes to get this done properly.
Two hours at 200° later…
Two hundred degrees breaks down the connective tissue and all of the duck flesh gets really tender and shreds easily. I fished these out of the hot lard (if you choose to try this, be very careful with this much hot fat; it burns like napalm) and set them aside to cool down.
Now, for the crêpes. The batter is pretty easy and I used a recipe that I snagged from Joy of Cooking. Joy was the first cookbook I ever bought and I have had one in my cookbook collection ever since. I’m on my third copy in the course of 35 years and my cookbook collection is well over 200 strong.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whip it. Whip it good.
Put the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the gluten relax a bit. It can relax for up to two days.
The first crêpe is always a bust. It may be temperature, or it may be something to do with the amount of fat in the pan. Even when I was a little kid mom always tossed the first one. In this case, I didn’t have a choice since I tried to turn it too early.
Oops. Oh well, I had plenty of batter.
The point here is: don’t get discouraged. Just try it again. Luckily, I have two crêpe pans!
This (the third) one is a little holy. Say a prayer for it.
And by the fourth one, we’re finally looking really good.
Stepping back for a minute, I reduced some (purchased) chicken stock by half, added two dried sage leaves, a dried juniper berry, and a teaspoonful of Wild Game Demi-Glace (from Williams-Sonoma), a pinch of pequin powder, and a touch of salt.
I thickened the sauce with about two teaspoons of corn starch mixed with some water (called a slurry). Do not put the corn starch directly into the stock.
Laying out some of the confit onto the holy crêpe, I drizzled a bit of the reduced and thickened sauce over the confit, sprinkled on a little salt, then rolled it up.
Get another crêpe, add duck and sauce, then repeat rolling procedure.
I cut each roll in half and plated the crêpes then spooned more of the sauce over it just to cover the plate hollow.
A meal like this couldn’t be enjoyed without some wine. We chose a 2008 Cameron Hughes Lot 176 Carneros Pinot Noir.
A little tight when first opened, this wine blossomed into a wonderfully balanced, medium-bodied mouthful of joy. It paired wonderfully with the duck. Luckily, I have a few bottles left.
Rounding out this great crêpe adventure, I found that I hadn’t completely lost my touch making these ultra-thin savory pancakes. It was easy and a lot of fun.
Thanks to the folks at Aquarelle for stimulating my desires.