Abita Saffron Crepes with Crab Meat and Mushroom Filling, and Caviar Sauce
Traditionally, French crepe batter is light, delicate, and almost bland, creating a thin pancake, the perfect wrap for dozens of fillings. (Classics include seafood, cheese, spinach, and mushrooms.) Conversely, traditional beer batter is a hearty, gutsy mixture most often used to dip foods before frying. In this unusual recipe, two worlds meet in one surprise package. The thin French crepe borrows flavor and color from saffron, orange, and Abita beer, from a microbrewery in the town of Abita Springs north of New Orleans. Each crepe is stuffed with a spicy crab meat-mushroom mixture and tied with thin ribbons of green onion. Extra crepes may be stacked, separated by pieces of parchment paper, wrapped, and frozen for future use.
- All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Eggs - 2, beaten
- Abita Beer or other flavorful dark beer - 1-3/4 cups (14 ounces)
- Saffron - 4 strands
- Zest of 1/2 orange
- Unsalted Butter - 4-1/2 tablespoons, melted
- For 2 crepes
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons (1 ounce)
- Shallots - 2, thinly sliced
- Vidalia or other mild white onion - 1/2, thinly sliced
- Garlic Cloves - 2 minced
- Roma Tomatoes - 1, julienned
- Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms - 1/4 cup (1 ounce), julienned
- Fresh Oyster Mushrooms - 1/4 cup (1 ounce), julienned
- Fresh Domestic Mushrooms - 1/4 cup (1 ounce), julienned
- Armagnac or other good brandy - 2 tablespoons (1 ounce)
- Thyme Sprigs - 3 or 4, stemmed and chopped
- Basil leaves - 4, cut into narrow strips (chiffonade)
- Mushroom or Chicken stock - 1/4 cup (2 ounces)
- Fresh Crab Meat - 1/2 cup (8 ounces)
- Green Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon (1 ounce) coarsely ground dried
- Pink Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon (1 ounce) coarsely ground dried
- Pinch of salt
- Small pinch of freshly cracked black pepper
- Caviar Sauce
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Shallot - 1, minced
- Warm Armagnac - 1/4 cup
- Shrimp Stock or Bottled Clam juice - 1/2 cup
- Crème Fraiche - 1/2 cup
- Romanoff Red Caviar - 1/2 teaspoon
- Baby Leek or 1 bunch green onions - leaves from 1 baby leek or 1 bunch green onions
- Brie Cheese - 2 ounces
- Romanoff Black Caviar - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
To make the crepes: Sift the flour and the salt into a medium mixing bowl. Add the eggs and beer, mixing until smooth. Strain the mixture into another bowl. Stir in the saffron, zest, and melted butter. Let stand for one hour.
Heat a small cast-iron crepe pan or non-stick saute pan, 8 to 10 inches in diameter, over medium-high heat. Do not grease the pan; the butter in the batter will be sufficient to prevent the crepes from sticking (that said, the first crepe or two may stick a little).
Hold the pan slightly tilted and pour about 3 tablespoons of batter on the high side. Quickly tilt the pan so that the batter has a chance to coat the whole bottom before hardening. Shake the pan to force the batter all over the bottom; the thinner the coating, the better the crepe. Cook the crepes over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Then bang the skillet a few times on a pot holder or folded towel to release the crepe. Flip the crepe over or turn it with a spatula and cook about 30 seconds on the other side. You will note that the side that was browned first is nicer than the other. When stacking the crepes, place the nicer side down so that it shows on the outside after the crepe is folded.
To make the filling: In a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, onion, and garlic; saute until the onions begin to color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the Armagnac; avert your face, light the liquid with a long match, and shake the pan until the flames subside. Remove from the heat carefully. Add the thyme and basil. Add the mushroom or chicken stock, then the crab meat, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the green and pink peppercorns, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
To make the caviar sauce: Melt the butter in a small saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook gently until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the Armagnac; avert your face, light the liquid with a long match, and sake the pan until the flames subside. Cook over medium heat to reduce slightly; add the shrimp stock or bottled clam juice and cook to reduce by half. Stir in the crème fraiche. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve. Stir in the red caviar. Keep warm.
To assemble: Blanch the leek or green onion leaves in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry; cut each leaf in half lengthwise. On a work surface, place two pieces of leaf about 3-1/2 inches apart. Place a crepe over the leaf pieces. Fill the crepe with about 1 cup of filling. Place a slice of Brie on the filling. Fold the crepe gently over the filling, tie both leaves, and gently lift the filled crepe onto a warmed serving plate with a spatula. Pool the caviar sauce around the plate and pour a little onto the crepe. Repeat for the second plate. Garnish each plate with tiny bits of black caviar. Place a bit of fennel frond on top of each crepe.