You find the strangest things at light rail stations sometimes. There are times when you may see toy cars that have been carjacked for parts; other times you find fresh rosemary growing next to some uninteresting plants. I was pleased to discover the latter while I was waiting for my train to arrive last week. I didn’t have a book with me and my iPod was out of battery, so I had nothing to do but take in my surroundings. At first I didn’t recognize the little herb plant because it was in full bloom with dainty little blue flowers. But on closer inspection, I saw that it was, indeed, rosemary!
I’m sure there’s a reason why they planted rosemary at a light rail station in an industrial area of Sacramento, but it’s unbeknownst to me and I really don’t care to know. I was just stoked to find fresh herbs for free. Since I’d been craving savory crepes over sweet ones lately, my mind started putting together some possibilities and I knew this herb find would come in very handy when creating a new recipe. I envisioned aromatic chicken and a delicate, creamy sauce going together perfectly with my little crepes. And since I don’t often cook with rosemary, and because I’d been such an irresponsible Poor Girl at McCormick & Schmick’s last Friday, I figured this would be a great time to experiment with it and create my own Easter feast. These crepes, some chilled white wine, and some makeshift chocolate mousse all made for a delicious – and far more affordable – Easter meal than I paid for my meal at M& S’s. No regrets, though; that was truly an incredible meal!
Crepes are wonderfully versatile, and this is just one of 5,472,715,186 ways to eat them (give or take). From berry-stuffed to cheese-filled to crepes suzettes, these thin little French “pancakes” are a wonderful base for some fantastic meals & desserts. Definitely experiment with these, because you won’t be disappointed! The recipe I offer below is a very basic one that is just perfectly balanced in flavor so that you can use sweet or savory fillings, so by all means, have fun ith it!
Anyway, if you don’t have access to fresh (or free) rosemary, do not fret; this will work out beautifully with the dried herb. However, it’s just so much more aesthetically pleasing with fresh rosemary! The dark green of the herb looks so beautiful next to the stark whiteness of the cream, but looks aren’t always everything, so you’ll get plenty of yummy flavor with dried rosemary. This dish would also probably go beautifully with some sort of green vegetable inside the crepes w/the chicken; I was just feeling like having meat & crepes after a long couple weeks of nothing but spinach, quinoa, and choir rehearsals. Feel free to experiment with asparagus or said spinach in these; I’m sure they’d turn out fantastic! The crepe recipe is easily doubled, so if you have a smaller family, take advantage of this fact and make dinner and dessert out of one batch of batter. I’ll be posting a sweet crepe recipe in the next week or two if you need inspiration. But enough of my babble! Have some ridiculously easy-to-make and uber tasty crepes.
Herbed Chicken Crepes with Fresh Rosemary Cream Sauce (makes 6-8 crepes; total cost per crepe: ~$0.90!)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 c nonfat milk
1 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
1/2 T butter for cooking
For the filling…
4 chicken thighs, cubed
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 t sea salt
1/4 t rosemary
1/8 t thyme
1/8 t freshly ground black pepper
2 T olive oil
For the Rosemary Cream Sauce…
1/2 c half & half
1 T butter
1/2 T fresh rosemary
1/2 T corn starch or flour, mixed in with a bit of water
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Season the cubed chicken thighs and heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and heat until just lightly golden brown. Add the chicken, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until thickest part of the cube is no longer pink on the inside. Remove from heat, keep covered, and set aside.
2. While chicken is cooking, combine the crepe ingredients into a bowl and mix together well with a wire whisk. The consistency of the batter will be runny at first and it should be – we are making crepes, not pancakes! However, it will thicken slowly (if it becomes too thick while you are cooking the crepes, add a splash or two of extra milk to thin it out). In a medium skillet, heat the 1/2 T butter and coat the entire pan with it. Using either a measuring cup or ladle with a spout, slowly pour some of the batter into the skillet until it covers the entire bottom. If you pour too fast, you’ll end up with a ton of splattered batter (hey, that rhymed) and very uneven-looking crepes. Cook over medium low heat until the edges become slightly dry, about 45 seconds. With a spatula, check to make sure the crepe is starting to turn a golden brown on the bottom. If so, it’s ready to flip onto the other side. Cook for about another 30 seconds or until the bottom side is golden brown. Transfer onto a plate and cover, so that the crepes stay moist and warm. Repeat the process until all the batter has been used.
3. Prepare the fresh rosemary cream after the crepes and chicken are completely cooked. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium low heat until melted and add the half & half, whisking to make sure the cream doesn’t burn. Next, add the fresh chopped rosemary and salt & pepper and whisk to mix. When the cream barely starts to boil around the edges, stir in the cornstarch (or flour) and water mixture and whisk briskly so that the sauce begins thicken. Cook for another minute or so, or until your sauce thickens well. Don’t worry if it’s a little runny at first; it will thicken after removing it from the heat.
4. Assemble your crepes by placing a spoonful or two or chicken (depending on how full you want your crepes) in the center of each crepe, drizzle a little bit of rosemary cream on the inside if you like, roll together, and place on a plate. Continue until all crepes have been assembled. Ladle a generous amount of the rosemary cream sauce on top of each serving, garnish with extra fresh rosemary sprigs, and enjoy!