Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crepes stuffed with meat




Intro
Crepes, called blini in Russian, is a traditional eastern-europian dish, served in a numerous ways. Crepes stuffed with meat is one of them.
Once on a holiday table, I guarantee, that it will be the first dish to disappear. It may be a piece of work but results are rewarding.

What it is
It's any kind of meat, you name it, cooked, then ground or minced, mixed with caramelized onion and rolled in regular crepes.

How it's served
You can serve it warm on its own or with sour cream on a side (Russian style), soy based sauce (oriental style) or some pickles as a universal accompaniment. Meat stuffed crepes can make great breakfasts for couple days although I doubt it will sit in your fridge that long :).

Some side comments
Don't be intimidated by making your own crepes - it's easy and fun business. I don't think you need special equipment - regular non-stick or heavy iron skillet will work. Iron skillet makes the best crepes although it IS heavy and it won’t be fun anymore to get it up and down all the time while making crepes, so I would recommend non-stick. You will speed up a process if you'll make large crepes on a larger skillet. For hors d'oeuvre style it's better to use smaller skillet. Also you can do 2 skillets at a time to make crepes really fast!
To make crepes I use olive oil although butter can be used instead. I don't think it make much difference in a taste.
Remember the rule: first crepe may not be perfect - don't be discouraged.
Recipe below is for large quantity, you can easily scale it down.

How to store it
Keep it in a refrigerator and brown up rolls on a medium heated and oiled skillet right before serving.

Variations
For vegetarian version I do mushrooms in place of meat. Just cook mushrooms in a skillet with a little bit olive oil and salt until liquid evaporates and mushrooms become crispy and somewhat brown. Then grind them up or process and add caramelized onion. Actually crepes can hold any kind of stuffing - your imagination is a limit! It just has to be soft because what matters here is a texture. Crepes are soft so the stuffing should not be tough or too chewy or too crispy either.

CREPES STUFFED WITH MEAT

 

For about 30 small crepes:

4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbs light olive oil (flavorless)
1.5 cup milk
1 cup water
0.5 tsp salt
5 tbs sugar

Filling:

2 lb inexpensive cut of beef  or chicken (any meat will work but best is with some connective 'gelatinous' tissues - it will make softer and juicier stuffing)
1 big onion, chopped
some salt and black pepper
olive oil (for frying)

- First, prepare filling - cook meat in a boiling and salted water until completely cooked.
- Remove cooked meat from a water and let it cool down a little bit. Then mince it using meat grinder as I do, or kitchen processor, or even plain knife to chop it in a really small pieces.
- Cook onion in a little olive oil until soft and start to become golden brown. Add ground meat to the onion, some salt if needed and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 15 minutes until golden-brown specks wil be here and there. Your filling is done. Set it aside.
- For crepes, in a big bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and milk until smooth. I like to use handheld mixer for this but it can be done with regular whisk or in a blender. Then add water by portions - you have to get somewhat liquid batter comparable with regular gravy consistency. More liquid your batter is - thinner your crepes will be.
- Science tells us to rest the batter for about 30 minutes for gluten to develop. Sometimes I don't obey it and guess what - couldn't tell a difference! So it's up to you.
- Using big serving spoon, pour batter on a heated skillet with a drop or two of olive oil and swirl around to cover all surface of skillet. Fry on a medium heat until crepe edges will come off. Lifting up one edge, turn crepe over using your finger (don't be scarred - it's not that hot!) and long spatula. Also, here you go, you can master your flipping skills here! Other side will cook faster.

- Repeat the process until all batter is used up.
- Refer to pictures below for how to roll up stuffing in crepes.
- If you like, crepes can be served right away, warm, as is. Although I prefer to fry rolled-up crepes additionally on a skillet with a little olive oil to get that great crispy skin to make contrast to the soft and delightful insides. Just be careful - do not burn crepes at this stage, do this rather on medium-low heat. Enjoy!

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IN PICTURES

This time I used chicken breast for filling.

I used electric grinder to grind the meat.


 
 Starting on batter for crepes.

















Process will go faster if you will use two skillets.
 


 


 This is crepe from the heavy iron skillet. Note perfect lacey pattern. Though I don't like to use cast iron one just because it's too heavy.

Yes, it's not chicken filling - I'm vegetarian so I've made some with mushroom filling :)
 
 
 
 
A crepe has always two different patterns for each side: initially cooked side has fine lacy pattern; on the other side there will "polka dot" style. It's the matter of personal preference which side  to hide and which to show when you roll up a stuffing in.  
 





 

 

 

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