February 23, 2004
[Galettes de sarrasin]
Tomorrow is Mardi-Gras, the last day before Lent begins. The Mardi-Gras tradition in France, amongst other things, is to gorge on crepes, supposedly to use up the eggs and butter that you won't be allowed to eat until Easter. I am not religious and so I don't observe Lent, but I will gladly take any opportunity to eat crepes. And last Friday, when my friends Marie-Laure and Laurence came over for dinner, I decided to make us crepes, using farine de sarrasin (buckwheat flour) like they do in Brittany, in the West of France.
Brittany is a fantasy land of wonderful crepes. We would spend a week of vacation there every year (often in Carnac) with my parents when I was younger. We would eat crepes every single night, to the sparkly-eyed delight of my sister and myself, and over time we had built quite a little itinerary of favorite crêperies to visit. In Brittany, savory crepes are made with buckwheat flour and are called "galettes", whereas sweet crepes are made with wheat flour and are called "crêpes".
And so it is that I can share with you my recipe for galettes de sarrasin, just in time for Mardi-Gras. You can use whatever filling suits your fancy, but the most traditional galette is probably the "complète", filled with an egg ("mirroir", sunny-side-up, or "brouillé", scrambled) ham and cheese (usually gruyère or comté). But you can also use vegetables, goat cheese, tuna, bacon... This past Friday, I made a batch of galettes filled with egg (sunny side up), ham and cheese, and another of caramelized leeks and shallots with goat cheese.
The only downside of making galettes is that they're in fact a little more work than I had foreseen, as I had to juggle two skillets, the fillings, and the keeping warm of the galettes that were ready. But we all enjoyed them very much, the taste of buckwheat flour is really special, nice and nutty ; the dough was just the way we like it, pliable in the middle and a little crunchy on the edges ; and the fillings were excellent.
Galettes de Sarrasin
For the batter:
- 200 grams (7 ounces) buckwheat flour
- 50 grams (1 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine seal salt
- 2 eggs
- 500 ml (1/2 quart) milk
- 500 ml (1/2 quart) water
For the galettes:
- salted butter
- the fillings of your choice
(Makes 12 medium galettes.)
Step 1 : Prepare the dough.
If you have a food processor , break the eggs in the bowl of the food processor. Add the flours and salt, and mix until well blended. Add as much of the milk as your food processor allows and mix again. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and add the remaining milk and the water. Whisk until thoroughly blended.
If you don't have a food processor, put the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl and dig a little well in the center. Break the eggs in the well, and whisk them gradually into the flour in a circular motion. Pour the milk in slowly, whisking all the while. Add the water, still whisking.
In both cases, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for at least two hours, overnight is best.
Step 2 : Make the galettes.
Take the bowl of dough out of the fridge and prepare all the fillings beforehand. Whisk the galette dough again, as some of the flour will have settled at the bottom of the bowl.
If you're making several galettes in a row, preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). This is where you'll keep the galettes warm while you make the others.
Heat up a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, put in a sliver of salted butter. When it is melted, but before it browns, use a paper towel to (cautiously) spread the butter evenly on the surface of the skillet. Pour a ladleful of dough in the skillet, and swoop the skillet around so that the dough spreads out in a nice even circle. Let cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes, peeking underneath with a spatula from time to time to check on the cooking.
Flip the galette when it's nicely golden underneath, cautiously or brazenly depending on your self-assurance. Put the fillings of your choice in the center of the galette. If using an egg, break it cautiously and gently maintain the yolk in the center with the eggshell or your spatula until the white has set enough to hold it in place. When the other side of the galette is nice and golden too, fold it as best you can : the traditional way is to fold the four sides in and make a square galette, but when there's a lot of filling and the galette isn't very big that's a little difficult, so just fold two sides in.
Put the galette in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet and into the oven to keep warm while you make the others. Serve with a green salad and liberal amounts of Cidre Brut, an alcoholic apple cider from Brittany.
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