This week, we are visiting Picardy to commemorate the signing of the armistice of the First World War in Compiègne on November 11, 1918.
Picardy cuisine is quite rich in cheese, cream, ham and game such as rabbits. As it is not easy to find typical cheeses like maroilles in Los Angeles, I kindly asked Vera care to prepare the traditional tarte au maroilles.
It left me with rabbit and ficelle picarde. I must admit that I had no clue what this dish was before my research on Picardy cuisine. A crepe stuffed with ham and cheese au gratin? Why not! I had already prepared a similar recipe for the recette.de challenge during the World Cup: a croque monsieur with tortillas instead of sliced bread.
A number of people who seem to know about ficelle picarde do not use the real filling that goes into the composition of a traditional ficelle picarde. It is not Béchamel sauce (as in croque monsieur) but rather duxelles to which is added creme fraiche that gives this rather simple crepe all of this unique flavor.
I also discovered duxelles recently. In fact, the only time I prepared duxelles was at the cooking workshop that Vera and I attended during my visit to Paris 18 months ago.
Duxelles is a preparation of finely chopped mushrooms that are sautéed and reduced with butter and finely chopped shallots. Famous chef François Pierre La Varenne, chef of the Marquis of Uxelles created this preparation in his honor in the seventeenth century.
I prepared the ficelles picardes last weekend while my in-laws were spending their last days with us in Los Angeles. That day, I celebrated the two year-anniversary of our blog in style by offering myself a superb new Canon EOS 70d camera. I had been contemplating the idea of getting a better camera for a while!
Very good choice. I have the same camera. Except mine saw the Annapurna and the source of the Nile, and all yours will ever see is a good ol’ sauerkraut.
That’s what my very good friend Fred commented after I shared my impulse purchase on Facebook!
Until then, we tasted these delicious ficelles picardes with the family in the comfort of our house. Duxelles is rather long to prepare but the end result is a concentrated flavor of earthiness. For this recipe, the added touch of creme fraiche and association with grated cheese gives this rich dish a unique flavor. You will feel like there aren’t enough of them so try doubling the ingredients!
This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in French cuisine, Chef Simon. You can find Chef Simon on his website Chef Simon – Le Plaisir de Cuisiner.
- 8 crepes (recipe below)
- 1¼ lb mushrooms
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 shallots
- 1 cup creme fraiche
- ½ cup white wine
- 8 oz. gruyere cheese , grated
- 8 slices ham
- 2 cups flour
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups milk
Finely chop mushrooms and shallots separately.
In a large hot skillet, melt the butter. Add shallots and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and stir well. Let the liquid evaporate as much as possible for at least 20 minutes .
At the end of cooking, add the white wine and continue to reduce until the liquid evaporates again.
Turn off the heat and add the sour cream while stirring.
Lay a crepe on a plate. Place the slice of ham. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of duxelles preparation and spread it over the surface of the ham. Roll the crepe. Place in an ovenproof baking dish.
Repeat with the other crepes and put them side by side in the dish.
Top with grated gruyere cheese and bake in an preheated oven at 400 F for 6 to 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and browning.
Beat eggs in a bowl.
Add the flour and continue beating.
Pour the milk gradually in order to obtain a liquid and thick paste without lumps.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt a small knob of butter.
Pour a ladleful of batter into the pan.
Lift the pan and quickly pour the batter over the entire surface.
After 2 minutes, flip the crepe and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
Repeat with the rest of the batter.