When we asked Solar Crêpes founders Camille Dierksheide and Danna Andrews for a tip on how to replicate the savory chicken crepe from their solar-powered truck, they replied in unison: “Don’t be afraid!”
True, making the thin, French buckwheat pancakes may seem daunting. But in reality, it’s not as difficult as those Parisian creperies make it out to be. Dierksheide and Andrews warn that the first one never comes out right, even if you’re a veteran crepe maker. Luckily, the recipe makes enough batter for lots of trial and error. (It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for three months.)
If you source your ingredients as carefully as the Solar Crêpes crew, the fillings also won’t need much manipulation. Dierksheide and Andrews are committed to sustainable, local, and organic produce, and they seek out chicken from Polyface farm, cave-aged cheddar from an Amish producer, and local vegetables. The result is flavorful roast chicken, sharp melted cheddar, and a sweet-savory caramelized-onion compote.
We’ve included recipes for all the components you’ll find at Solar, including what Andrews calls “the perfect roast chicken,” a recipe from her French mother-in-law that her husband has eaten once a week since childhood. Most of these recipes can be made a day, or even a week, ahead, and any leftover ingredients can be incorporated into on-the-fly dinners.
Solar Crêpes’ Crepe With Chicken, Cheddar, and Balsamic
Make the crepes:
Makes 20 crepes
1 cup buckwheat flour, such as Arrowhead Mills
1 tablespoon local or buckwheat honey, available at Whole Foods
2 tablespoons kosher salt
8 ounces melted butter
7 cups water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Using a whisk or electric mixer, blend all ingredients except the oil. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream; add more water if it’s too thick. Let it rest in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, and let it warm to room temperature for an hour before using.
Place an 8- or 12-inch seasoned cast-iron skillet, crepe pan, or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Wipe the pan with vegetable oil, and wipe it clean with a paper towel.
Pour ¼ to ½ cup batter into the pan and swirl the pan around to cover the bottom. After about 1 minute, turn the crepe with a spatula to cook the other side. Set each finished crepe aside while preparing the others. Crepes can be stacked, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, and placed in the fridge for use the following day. Reheat following as you would in the assembly instructions below.
Make the roasted-chicken filling:
1 whole chicken (you can also buy a preroasted chicken from Whole Foods, but it won’t have the same spices)
2 tablespoons yellow curry powder, or enough to rub over the whole chicken
½ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried tarragon, or herbes de Provence
10 garlic cloves, peeled
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and place the chicken in a roasting pan. Rub evenly with curry powder, then drizzle with soy to cover the skin, and sprinkle with herbs. Scatter the garlic cloves in the pan.
Fill the pan with water until it rises roughly 1 inch up the side of the bird, and place in the oven. Baste the chicken after 30 minutes with the pan liquid, and then again every 20 minutes until the bird is cooked, about 1½ hours total.
Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes. Pull apart into large, bite-size chunks, and set aside or store in the fridge (can be made a day ahead).
Make the caramelized-onion purée:
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onions until they’re deep brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a little water and scrape the bottom of the pan if the onions stick or dark caramelization forms.
In a blender, purée the onions until soft. Season to taste. The purée can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
Make the balsamic reduction:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Simmer the vinegar in a saucepan set over medium-low heat, until it’s reduced by half and has a syrupy consistency. Let cool. Store in the fridge for up to six months.
Assemble the crepes:
Measurements are per crepe
1 teaspoon butter
3 thin slices cave-aged or sharp farmhouse cheddar
3 tablespoons onion purée
½ cup baby spinach
½ cup shredded roasted chicken
2 to 3 slices tomato
1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
Reheat the crepes: Place the butter in a nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat and warm crepes for about 1 minute.
To stuff the crepe, think of it as a clock. Spread the ingredients from 11 to 1, placing the cheese on the bottom and topping it with the other ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until the cheese begins to melt, then fold the bottom half over the ingredients so it forms a half moon. When it’s warm, fold the two edges up so it looks like a triangle. Serve immediately.
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