Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
We’ve been having a renewed love affair with crepes at my house lately. I’d somehow forgotten how easy they are to make. Now that we’ve become reacquainted, I’ve been using them in countless preparations, both sweet and savory.
Crepes make a great vehicle to transform any bits and pieces you might have hanging out in your fridge. In this recipe, chicken undergoes a decadent, comforting transformation when shredded, wrapped in fluffy crepes and accompanied by a creamy sauce. Lemon and pepper provide a simple but unifying thread of flavor throughout all of the components.
Crepe batter should ideally be left to rest; most traditional recipes suggest at least an hour. However, an hour on a weeknight can be asking a lot. I find that I can get away with 15 minutes without too great a difference in texture. The crepes might come out a little less spongy; however, this might be a fair trade-off in a pinch. If you make the batter first and then proceed with the rest of the prep and cooking, the batter should have enough time to rest before it hits the pan.
Despite the creaminess of the dish, the flavors are surprisingly delicate, so I looked for wine pairings that could strike a balance. I decided to try a California Fumé Blanc, a Mâcon-Villages and a Sicilian Grillo.
All of these white wines worked relatively well. The Fumé Blanc was refreshing on its own, but the light green notes in this Sauvignon Blanc approached hints of bitterness with the food. If you decided to add a mix of herbs to the sauce, this would likely be the wine of choice, but as is, we moved on to the other options.
The Mâcon-Villages made for a lovely pairing. This Chardonnay had plenty of citrusy freshness and a touch of roundness to the mouthfeel, with notes of melon and golden apple that complemented the creamy sauce quite well. No gripes here.
The Grillo—a native Italian variety that is widely grown in Sicily because it can handle high temperatures—had a similar lemony brightness, along with hints of stone fruit. However, this wine also had more minerality than our other selections. It worked beautifully with the delicate flavors, and its overall effect was to lighten the food and refresh the palate, making this the wine that we kept coming back to sip after sip.
Pair with a citrusy white such as Tasca d'Almerita Grillo Sicilia Cavallo delle Fate 2014 (88 points, $20) from Italy, or Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages 2014 (87 points, $15) from France.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Approximate food costs: $12
1. Mix together 1 cup of flour, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 4 eggs, half of the lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of black pepper. (Note: A blender or immersion blender will create a smooth, even texture, but the ingredients can also be mixed using a whisk.) Allow the batter to rest for at least 15 minutes.
2. Combine the ricotta with the remaining lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of flour and stir to make a roux. Cook until the mixture is lightly golden and starting to smell slightly toasted. Gradually whisk in 2 cups of milk. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce to a simmer. Stir in about one-third of the ricotta mixture. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, and allow to thicken until it coats the back of a spoon, whisking occasionally. Keep ricotta sauce warm until ready to serve.
4. Heat a small amount of butter in a pan, add the diced onion and sweat over medium heat until soft and nearly translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the lemon juice and zucchini and cook until soft as well, approximately another 3 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and toss to combine. Cook until the chicken is warmed through; season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.
5. Lightly coat an 8-inch nonstick pan with butter. Pour enough batter into the pan, about 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup, to coat bottom evenly, swirling to distribute. Cook until the top of the crepe looks mostly dry and the bottom starts to show golden-brown spots. Loosen with a spatula, flip and finish cooking on the second side. Keep the finished crepes warm and repeat until all of the batter has been used.
6. Just before serving, combine the chicken mixture with remaining two-thirds of the ricotta-lemon zest and warm it gently.
7. Fill each crepe with a small amount of the chicken mixture and roll up. Top with a little bit of the ricotta sauce and serve. Makes 8 to 10 crepes, or 4 to 5 servings.