Wednesday, June 13, 2007
A Crepe of some sort....
My most recent cooking experiment has been an attempt to recreate from memory a dish I ate 3 or 4 years ago in France. It was at a small bistro somewhere in Nice, I don’t remember the name or exactly where it was, but it was quite memorable. This meal was unforgettable in more than one way. My friend and I were seated outside, as I prefer to dine during all seasons except nuclear winter, and we were entertained by the most amazing street musician I have ever encountered in Europe. He was a young man playing piano in the square next to us, a full size upright piano, which I later witnessed him pushing down the cobblestones up-ended on a dolly toward the site of his next performance. I have no memory of what I ordered, but my friend ordered a crepe, I don’t know what it was called but it was incredible. It was a grilled patty of ground beef in a crepe (I don’t know what cut of beef it was, but it was much higher quality than typical ground beef), covered with sautéed mushrooms and onions and a fried egg on top. It doesn’t sound like anything terribly noteworthy, but it was one of the best dishes I encountered on this trip. I don’t know how the French accomplish this culinary feat, but I finally had to endeavor to duplicate it myself….
1 large egg
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1tsp. finely chopped parsley leaves
½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper
Whisk together egg, milk, parsley, and butter until well combined. Add flour, salt, and pepper and whisk until smooth. Heat a large pan or griddle (Unless you are cool enough to have a crepe pan) over medium high heat and brush with vegetable oil or butter. Pour a few tablespoons of the batter into the pan, tilting and rotating it quickly to cover the pan with a thin layer of batter. When the bottom is nicely browned, flip it and brown the other side.
I had no idea how ground beef could have been so good so I attempted to hand chop my favorite piece of meat, ribeye, and form it into a patty with some garlic, shallots, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. I cooked my ribeye patty to medium and placed it into the crepe.
Next I sautéed mushrooms and shallots in some butter, lemon juice, and Sauvignon Blanc and piled it onto the ribeye patty. I don’t think asparagus was pat of the original dish, but I felt that something green was needed so I placed some steamed asparagus on top of the mushrooms and shallots. Finally, I fried a single egg to finish the dish.
The finished dish was very good but I can’t say that it lived up to my expectations based on what I ate in Nice. I think the main downfall of my attempt was the beef patty, which was key to the dish. I thought a ground ribeye would be great considering the unmatched flavor and high fat content that I believed would result in a tender patty. I was wrong; the ribeye patty was lacking the phenomenal flavor of a grilled ribeye and its toughness was unprecedented. If I can just improve the beef patty, I believe that these ingredients combine synergistically, resulting in a wonderful dish. My tough beef patty must be an artifact of my proud Irish heritage. It isn’t a common problem for me, but the Irish have an uncanny ability to transform even the most tender cuts of meat into leathery hunks of gray protein. I think I will try ground sirloin and get into the mindset of a French bistro chef for my next attempt. I will forgo bathing for several days and cook with a cigarette dangling out of my mouth while cursing that “Stupide Presidente Americain.” Don’t let my Irish meat preparation shortcomings deter you from this dish, if you learn from my mistake I think you will be in for quite a treat.