I have been wanting to try my hand at Chicken Florentine Crêpes for a while now – ever since I first tasted them at The Crêpe Escape a few years back. Truth be told, I am a sucker when it comes to Crêpes. I adore them – stuffed with savory ingredients, or as a dessert treat. Kiddo and I have been known to scarf down a few freshly prepared Crêpes with nothing more than sweet butter and a dusting of powdered sugar. Our love affair with Crêpes stems from our days of traveling abroad. Oh how the French have mastered Crêpes and Croissant!
Recently I came across a recipe for Chicken Florentine Crêpes. While that recipe did not rock my world, it was a great starting point to come up with something all my own. Isn’t that the reason behind sharing recipes in the first place – so that the recipe can evolve beyond our own thought process? It’s like those piles of rocks you see along hiking trails. One person puts down a rock, the next person to come along leaves their own “mark” with an additional rock and before you know it, there are dozens if not hundreds of contributions. To me, recipes are like that. Take a little something, leave a little something and pass it on.
One of the things I’ve noticed about recipes for Chicken Florentine is that they share two common ingredients (besides the obvious, chicken). They are all made with cheese (cheddar, Swiss or Parmesan) and spinach. Hum, the spinach was something I could get behind. And isn’t it the spinach that defines a Florentine dish in the first place? While some recipes called for frozen spinach, I would rather use fresh. That just left the cheese to contend with. Cheddar seemed far too pedestrian. Parmesan cheese would be okay, but it wasn’t hitting the mark with me. Swiss, that was something I could go for. I knew Kiddo would like Swiss Cheese. Hubby was a different story. He’s not a big fan of cheese. Hubby has come along way when it comes to cheese after more than 30 years of being married to a cheese-lover. Most of his cheese consumption is hidden in plain site. However; the flavor of Swiss isn’t something that is going to go quietly into to night. No, Swiss would be singing from the mountain tops “Check it out, I AM here”! What I needed was a type of cheese that was rich, creamy and acceptable to all concerned. Yeah, gotta love cream cheese. If you would rather, use the Swiss in place of the Philly favorite.
Another key factor to consider were the Crêpes themselves. While I have several recipes for Crêpes, the one I chose to use here is the same one I used for Beef Stroganoff Stuffed Crêpes. By my way of thinking, I was doing enough “experimenting” with the filling. When it came to the Crêpes, I wanted to use a tried and true approach.
Chicken Florentine Crêpes
1-1/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Make the Crêpe Batter: Beat eggs and place in a blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Pour batter through a sieve set over a bowl. Cover and refrigerate batter for an hour to allow gluten to rest. While the batter is resting, begin making the filling. (Note: batter may rest up to 1 day).
Chicken Florentine Crêpe Filling
1.25 lbs Cubed Chicken Meat (see note)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 oz Cream Cheese with Chives
1⁄2 cup milk
1 tablespoon Tuscan Italian Seasoning Blend
Black pepper to taste
10 oz fresh spinach
Note: Foster Farms makes a great cubed chicken that is convenient to use. You will find it in the frozen food section of most grocery stores. There is no need to defrost chicken, simply empty the bag into a heated skillet and continue. If using fresh chicken, simply cut breasts into bite size pieces and proceed.
Make the Chicken Florentine Filling:Heat large non-stick pan over medium heat. Melt butter. Sauté chicken for a few minutes in butter until golden brown. While chicken cooks, peel and mince garlic. Add garlic to the chicken and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Empty soup into pan with chicken. Stir well.
Add Cream Cheese, stir until cheese has melted and blended with soup. Add milk and Tuscan Seasoning. Once mixture has begun to bubble, lower heat to maintain a steady simmer. Season with pepper and continue to cook until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes.
Just before cooking the Crêpes, tear spinach into small pieces. Scatter spinach over the top of the chicken mixture and let it wilt. Cover pan to keep warm and remove from heat.
Cook the Crêpes: Using a small, heavy bottom stainless steel pan (or a crêpe pan), slowly heat pan until reaching medium to medium-high. (Different pans will heat differently – it may be necessary to make adjustments after the first crêpe is cooked. The pan must be hot enough that the crêpe won’t stick, but not too hot that it burns).
Lightly coat pan with a little butter for the first crêpe. The best way to do this is to unwrap one end of a stick of butter, swirl the stick on the bottom and up the sides of the warm pan. A LIGHT coating of butter is all you need. If you can see the butter, you’ve got too much.
Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter to the bottom of the pan.(A 6″pan will take about 1/4 cup, 8″ pan no more than 1/2 cup). Tilt and swirl pan to coat bottom with batter. Cook crêpe for about 2 minutes or until lightly brown and dry – the surface will no longer appear shiny and the edges just beginning to brown. Carefully flip crêpe to cook the other side for about a minute. Don’t worry if the first crêpe is buttery and a little crisp – consider this your test crêpe and adjust time and temperature accordingly. (Sometimes my first two or three are a little “off” – they might not be the prettiest crêpes around, but they taste just fine).
Continue to cook each crêpe, buttering the pan with a quick swipe after each crêpe.
Fill the Crêpes: As each crêpe is done, place crêpe on a plate. Fill center with about 1/2 cup of filling. Fold crêpe over filling, transfer to a warm platter for serving. Repeat until all the batter has been used or all the filling is used. The filling and batter should work out to six 8″ crêpes.