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Easy Ficelle Picarde Recipe – Few recipes are as “homestyle” as this regional specialty.
It may rank as the most famous “dish” from my little corner of France. Ever wondered what to serve in those oh so cute petite oval eared dishes? In our home, this is it!
A petit peu de French food vocabulary and geography before we begin assembling dinner.
What is a
The baker will hand you the thinnest baguette ever! Or in this case, a thin sliver of a filled savory crêpe.
What is Picarde? From Picardie – a region of France steeped in history that stretches from the northern suburbs of Paris, the vineyards of the Champagne region, to the beaches of the Somme river on the shores of the English Channel. For me, it’s home.
Prepare a full size casserole or individual dishes of Ficelle Picarde – a savory crêpe filled with thin slices of Jambon de Paris, a classic duxelles of mushrooms with shallots, a hint of white wine, drenched in béchamel sauce and topped tangy Emmentaler – and you will please even the most jaded dinner guests and lull them into a food coma.
It’s as simple as it gets when it comes to assembling dinner for a crowd.
But what happens when the best of intention fall flat and you have to – unintentionally – resort to fusion cuisine?
What if you are short on time and would rather not prepare the crêpes or the béchamel? It becomes one of the easiest recipes to adapt!
Everyone loves crêpes and a ficelle Picarde’s main component (aka wrapper) is a savory crêpe.
You can prepare them using the traditional pan or a convenient electric griddle designed specifically to make pancakes – and crêpes too!
These griddles are almost easier to use than a pan. All of my pet peeves are eliminated!
Yes, it takes a little more room to store than the average specialty skillet but I am willing to bet you will use it more often than a plain skillet. Following is a recipe for the plain batter.
Make The Crêpes: I pulled out my trusty vintage Oster® blender and placed all ingredients in the blender jar starting with the milk and melted butter.
Blend for about two minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides of the blender and continue blending until the batter is silky smooth.
The batter needs to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat your best non-stick frying pan to medium-high heat.
Just before pouring the batter in the pan, I rub some butter onto the bottom of the pan just to ensure that it does not stick at all. Add a small ladle full of batter to the pan and swirl to distribute evenly to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
Don’t make the pancake too thin. Wait until the top of the crêpe loses it’s wet look and dries up then carefully lift an edge, run a thin spatula under the edge and flip it over.
Cook for a minute or so longer, checking along the edge until the bottom is golden in color.
Remove it from the pan and set aside.
Prepare the rest of the batter and set aside until ready to add filling.
Homestyle comfort food is as easy as a Ficelle Picarde! Now you can make it from scratch or improvise with this quick and easy version.
3/4 to 1 pound of “ham off the bone” – Ask the Deli clerk to cut it at a slice #1 setting ( you want 2 slices of ham per “ficelle”)
12 ounces of sliced mushrooms – roughly chopped
2 large shallots – cut in half and sliced thin
2 tablespoons of robust olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine (Holland House® cooking wine)
2 cups of béchamel sauce or 2 jars of Bertolli® Mushroom Alfredo sauce
Make a simple mushroom Duxelles:
In a frying pan or large saucepan, add the olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When sizzling, add the chopped shallots and sauté until they take on a light color.
Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté along with the shallots until they have rendered their liquid and take on a nice color. To the pan, add a little white wine to finish cooking the mushrooms.
Set aside to cool. Duxelles is more akin to a “paste” – See notes about how I prepare the ficelle with a variation of the authentic duxelles recipe.
Prepare a simple Béchamel sauce.
Ham, Duxelles and Cheese Filling:
Preheat the oven to 350*.
Butter a 13 by 9 inch casserole dish.
Set out the crêpes/tortillas along with the ham, cheese and mushroom mixture.
On a large plate, place a crêpe/tortilla and top with 2 slices of ham.
Spoon mushrooms down the middle of the tortilla.
Sprinkle a little bit of shredded Emmentaler on the mushroom mixture – just enough cheese to bind the mushroom bits when it melts.
Roll the crêpe/tortilla making sure the ham, mushroom and cheese are securely rolled into the center then place in the butter dish, seam side down.
When serving in individual dishes, tuck the ends under to fit. When using a large casserole, only make as many as fit in the pan. You don’t want them to be squished together because it allows you to add some béchamel sauce between each ficelle.
Pour the sauce evenly over all the rolled crêpes then top with shredded Emmentaler.
Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Sprinkle with any leftover cheese just before serving.
We prefer mushrooms to be a little coarser than “finely chopped” and reduced to a paste. Once cooked, I find that the resulting mixture is more mush than an ingredient with some texture. I slice the onions, then rough chop them. Short on time, I often (as is the case in this particular recipe) don’t even bother to chop the cooked mushrooms into smaller pieces. Just my take.
Keywords: crépes, ham, mushrooms, gruyère
As I mentioned earlier, tonight was not my night to prepare crepes. I thought I could wing it in one of my best nonstick pans but the surface of the pan was not smooth enough.
The first crepe cooked well on one side but it was impossible to flip it to the second side. I tried cooking a second one but the results were identical. So…
This is when you improvise, adapt, whatever you want to call it when the time is short and everyone is particularly hungry.
What’s great about this dish is that you can prepare the crepes/flour tortillas in a large rectangular casserole dish to feed a crowd or in individual ovenproof gratin dishes for a family meal.
1 Cook, 2 Countries & A Taste For World Cuisines: Cooking A La Mode De Chez Nous - Cuisine d'Hier Et d'Aujourd'hui! For the love of home style cooking and great food. Memories are made of this!