It’s Winter. What better way to warm up than with the tender cheese filled crespelle floating in clear chicken broth? Crespelle in brodo, known in Abruzzo as Scriplle ‘mbusse, is a satisfying yet delicate soup that will warm you from the inside out.
From Teramo comes the story that Enrico dei Castorano was preparing crespelle when quite by accident, they fell into some nearby broth. Well aware there was no retrieving the crespelle from their watery landing zone, he served them as they were and this simple yet elegant dish entered the canon of classic Italian cuisine.
Crespelle are surprisingly easy to make. Make what ever size you wish, keeping in mind that you want to be able to submerge the crepes in broth. Check out the diameter of your bowl when deciding what size crespelle to make. For larger crespelle you may wish to adjust the cheese upwards.
This recipe makes 12-14 crespelle, 8 inches in diameter. Count on 2 to 3 crespelle per serving. Richly flavored capon broth is traditional, but brodo di pollo (chicken broth) is a delight, its delicacy complementing the tender cheese-filled crepes. Some cooks call for Pecorino only, I prefer a combination of Parmigiano and Pecorino. Cook’s choice.
Crespelle in brodo
serves 4 to 6
1 ½ to 2 ½ quarts brodo di pollo
1 cup 00 flour OR all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano, plus more to finish
3/4 cup grated Pecorino
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced Italian parsley plus more to finish
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to coat skillet
Make the crespelle: Place flour, eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons Parmigiano, nutmeg and salt in blender or food processor, and process until well blended. Transfer ingredients into bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons minced parsley. Cover and set aside twenty minutes.
Heat 8-inch non-stick skillet and butter lightly. Add enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan, about ¼ cup. Tilt the pan to coat and cook over medium heat until edges are set, 30-45 seconds. Flip and cook about a few seconds more until done. Remove to a plate, and continue cooking crespelle, stacking one atop another.
Bring brodo to the boil. Meanwhile, place crespelle flat on work surface. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Pecorino and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano over each and roll up tightly. Place 2 or 3 crespelle seam side down in wide-rimmed soup bowls. Add boiling brodo to cover, sprinkle with minced parsley and Parmigiano and serve.
Brodo di Pollo
Making brodo requires a few hours of your time. There are three keys to clear and pure tasting brodo. The first is fresh ingredients. The second is diligent skimming of the scum and foam which, if left behind, will impart a bitter taste and opacity to the brodo. I recommend using a long handled steel mesh skimmer, available at kitchenware shops and Amazon. The third key is twofold – remove as much of the surface fat as possible and keep the stockpot well off the boil. Removing the fat is best accomplished with a metal spoon. If you allow the fat to remain and the pot stays at a rolling boil, the fat will emulsify in the brodo, and it will taste greasy. Keep the stockpot at a lazy simmer and skim frequently to achieve pure chicken flavor with no hint of bitterness or grease.
1 chicken, about 4 ½ to 5 pounds, cut up, visible pieces of fat removed and discarded
2 leeks, rinsed, dark green leaves discarded, white part cut into 1 inch slices
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1 inch chunks
2 ribs of celery, leaves attached, cut in 1 inch chunks
8 sprigs of Italian parsley
10 black peppercorns
about 2 quarts filtered water, or enough to cover the chicken and aromatics
Place chicken in 8 quart stockpot, adding enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Place over high heat, and bring to boil, skimming fequently to remove foam and scum. Once pot has reached a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, adjusting to maintain a lazy simmer. Continue skimming as needed. Add 1 cup very cold water to encourage the last of the scum to rise. Skim.
Add the aromatics (vegetables, parsley and peppercorns.) Adjust heat to maintain a lazy simmer. Partially cover stockpot, and continue cooking about 2 hours more, checking often to be certain vegetables are submerged. Use a metal spoon remove any fat, foam or scum. Check color of brodo at 2 hours; it should be a light yellow.
If you want it a bit darker, cook thirty minutes longer. Remove from heat. Strain stock through dampened cheesecloth or very fine sieve into glass container. Let brodo drain from meat and vegetables. Do not press; that will cloud the brodo. Discard bones and vegetables, reserving meat for another purpose. The brodo is ready to use. Store, well covered, in refrigerator 2 days or freeze 3 months.