CREPES DE VOLAILLE VERSAILLAISE
(Chicken Crepes with Asparagus and Mushrooms)
This classic French dish with Italian origins is a perfect main course that can be served during Spring Brunch.
For the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1-1/4 cups chicken broth (See Cook’s Notes)
¼ cup chopped shallot
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken (See Cook’s Notes)
3 tablespoons medium-dry Sherry
1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed
For the Crepes:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1-1/4 cups whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
For the Finishing Sauce:
1 large egg yolk
5 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese, for garnish
A 3-quart flameproof ceramic or enameled shallow baking dish
TO make the filling: Heat 5 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides. Whisk in flour and cook roux, whisking, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer gently, whisking frequently, until veloute sauce is silky and thick, about 25 minutes. Reserve ½ cup sauce for topping.
Cook shallot in remaining tablespoon butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir into veloute sauce along with chicken and Sherry.
Cut tops from asparagus and set aside. Cut enough stalks into ¼-inch pieces to measure 1 cup, reserving remainder for another use. Cook tips in a saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl of ice and cold water with a slotted spoon. Scoop out tips and drain on paper towels, then reserve for topping. Cook and drain chopped asparagus in same manner and stir into veloute sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
TO make the crepes: Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture. Force batter through a fine sieve into a bowl.
Heat a dry 7-to 8-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot, and then brush very lightly with some melted butter. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.) Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 to 10 seconds then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip. Cook until just cooked through, about 20 seconds, and transfer to a plate. Make 15 more crepes in same manner, brushing skillet with melted butter as needed and stacking crepes on a plate.
ASSEMBLE and bake the crepes: Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spread ¼ cup filling across center of 1 crepe and roll into a cylinder. Transfer, seam side down, to buttered baking dish, then assemble more crepes in same manner, fitting them snugly. Bake in middle of over 15 minutes.
MAKE the finishing sauce while the crepes a baking: Stir together yolk, 2 tablespoons cream, and reserved ½ cup sauce until smooth. Beat remaining 3 tablespoons cream with a whisk until it holds soft peaks, and then fold into yolk mixture.
Spoon the finishing sauce over crepes and broil 5 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Heat butter in skillet, then add reserved asparagus tips and toss until warm.
Place 2 crepes on each of 8 plates and top with asparagus tips. Garnish with Gruyere cheese and serve.
Fish stock or water can be used as a substitute if shellfish is being used in place of the the chicken.
About 9 ounces of chopped cooked shrimp, lobster or crab-meat can be substituted for the cooked chicken.
The filling and crepes can be made 2 days ahead and kept separately, covered and chilled in the refrigerator.
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