When I was growing up my Mother and Father would use the same stuffing for any filled pasta; manicotti, stuffed shells, cannelloni, ravioli and sometimes even in their lasagna. They used a simple stuffing made with a mixture of ricotta cheese and sautéed hamburger. It was good, but not at all adventurous. However, they did use the crêpes more often than dried pasta shells.
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE CREPES:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Kosher salt to taste
- Olive oil for the pan
- FOR THE FILLING:
- 1 pounds whole-milk or part-skim ricotta cheese
- A handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 large egg
- A small handful of chopped flat leaf Italian parsley and basil mixed
- 1/2 cup Besciamella (see recipe) (optional sauce)
- 1-3 cloves of minced fresh garlic
- 1cup chopped cooked spinach (about o pound), all liquid squeezed out; frozen would fine.
- Or 1/2 Lb of sautéed good hamburger
- Some freshly grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (or mixed)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1-2 Qts. Of basic marinara sauce. Keep it delicate don't use any heavy meat sauce
TO PREPARE THE CRÊPES:
Beat the eggs in a large bowl and while whisking the egg, add some of the water, some of the milk and a little flour. Keep adding each slowly and keep whisking then S & P to taste. The finished product should be like a thin pancake batter. Line a dinner platter with some waxed paper or plastic wrap and set aside. Crepes can also be made ahead & frozen.
Lightly coat the inside of an 8 inch nonstick sauté pan with a little olive oil. The best way to do this is with a lightly oiled piece of paper towel. Bring the up to med. / high heat and add about a 1/4 of a cup of batter. Swirl the batter around in the so it lightly coats the inside. This is your trial crêpe so don't worry about screwing up. As the batter starts cooking you will little holes pop open as the bottom cooks. Loosen the crêpe around the edges so it slides freely in the pan. Now it's time to flip it. If you do a fair amount of sautéing and know how to toss food with the pan you can flip it like you would a fried egg. Another method is to tip the pan so the crêpe starts to slide out of the pan. As it does, slide it almost all the way out with your fingers and flip it. This must be done by sliding it out quickly and flipping it quickly because will flop if you go too slowly. You can also slide it on a small dish then flip it or simply flip it like a pancake. As you make them, just set them aside to cool down. This batter should make about 20-24 crepes. If you are not using a non-stick pan brush it with additional oil as required to prevent sticking.
TO PREPARE THE FILLING;
Use the cleaned batter bowl, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, egg, garlic, parsley,
bescia¬mella if you use it, and the spinach or meat (or even both) . Stir in some grated cheese and S & P to taste.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large baking dish, coat the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. On each crêpes, spread a massive tablespoon of the filling across the bottom third of each one and roll it closed and place it seam side down in the baking dish. Continue filling crêpes and arrange them in rows in baking dish making sure that their sides are not squashed against each other; use two dishes if required. Pour the sauce generously across the top of the crêpes and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil but don't squish it down on the grated cheese. Bake until hot throughout. Check by probing them with a fork then touching the fork to your lips to check the temp. If it appears really hot, check it with your fingers first so you don't burn your lip. When it's hot but eatable, remove the foil and place on the top grate of the oven, crank the temp up and lightly brown the cheese but don't burn it; this should only take a few minutes. If there is any sauce leftover, serve it on the side along with the grated cheese and some crusty Italian bread.
For options, sauté some chopped shallots and ground veal in olive oil until slightly browned and add it to the filling. Be creative use chicken or even seafood if you like to suit your own taste. You can even change the sauce from marinara to a cream sauce or even a cheese sauce.
Buona Appetito: VINCENZO
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Source: SOUTH SIDE SOCIAL CLUB COOKBOOK
Submitted By: VINCENZO PAOLINO