When Americans think of crepes, they think of the sweet version of these French pancakes—paper-thin and layered with butter and sugar or Nutella, then folded and sprinkled with powdered sugar. As much as I enjoy a dessert crepe now and then, my own preference is for its savory cousin, the Breton galette, which is made with buckwheat flour for a uniquely nutty and delicious flavor.
In Brittany, the galette is like the bread in a sandwich: a vehicle for a variety of fillings, from smoked meats to shellfish to vegetables. It makes for a lunch that is both rustic and sophisticated. The trick is to master the batter. I make mine with fine buckwheat flour—I recommend Hodgson Mill brand—mixed with all-purpose flour. Refrigerate the batter for at least two hours, and then pour it into a crepe pan or nonstick pan, turning it so that the liquid coats the entire surface. Let it sit for a minute to brown, flip, cook a bit longer, remove, and stack for later.
This recipe is similar to what is known in Brittany as a galette complète, incorporating ham, Gruyère cheese, spinach, tomato, and a sunny-side-up egg. But really, you can use your imagination when it comes to the fillings. For an elevated spin, I would finish it off with a few shavings of fresh truffles.
Using buckwheat flour results in a heartier version of the traditional French crepe. The plate is by Gien, the flatware is by Arhaus, the napkin and cloth are by Les Indiennes, and the glass is by Bormioli Rocco.
WHAT TO DRINK
Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel restaurants, suggests serving the galette with a hard apple or pear cider to pay tribute to its rustic origins: "I recommend the Cidre Poire Granit [$17] from master cider maker Eric Bordelet, using pears grown on 300-year-old trees." A good alternative, he adds, is the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché ($9), made with 13 varieties of apples.
BRETON GALETTE WITH HAM AND GRUYÈRE
Makes 8 galettes
⅔ cup buckwheat flour
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
1 cup water, extra as needed
2 T salted butter, melted, extra as needed
½ lb. Gruyère cheese, grated
½ lb. sliced ham
1 cup cooked spinach leaves, optional
4 small vine-ripe tomatoes, sliced, optional
Fleur de sel
Freshly ground white pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs, milk, and 1 cup of water. Whisk from the inside out, gradually pulling in the dry ingredients from the sides until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Whisk in the melted butter. Then, whisk in ½ cup cold water, or enough so that the batter has the consistency of heavy cream.
Heat a 12-inch nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and ladle approximately ⅓ cup of the batter in the center. Immediately tilt the pan to evenly distribute the batter into a thin, even layer. Return to the heat and cook undisturbed until lightly browned at the edges, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then flip with a spatula and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat until batter is finished.
Return the crepes, one at a time, to the pan over medium heat, and brush the surface with melted salted butter. Separate an egg and reserve the yolk. Spread the egg white onto the crepe evenly by tilting the pan. Then place the egg yolk in the center. Sprinkle cheese around the yolk, and add 2 to 3 slices of ham on top. Scatter spinach leaves and tomato slices, if using, around the yolk. Fold in the corners of the crepe to make a square. Cover and cook until the cheese melts and the egg is cooked, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle yolk with fleur de sel and pepper and serve immediately.
Plus, see MORE RECIPES from Daniel Boulud.