I read about French farçous pancakes for the first time on Friday morning and by lunchtime I was eating them. As my usual process of funneling the hundreds of recipe ideas swarming around in my head into a single one worth sharing is an exercise in exasperation involving extensive considerations of how I’d like to approach something, ingredient availability, time availability, estimated number of rounds it will take to get said recipe right, scanning my worry meter over all the places I suspect it might flop, number of stores to get to find ingredients, all interspersed with baby feedings, and overdue items on an forever-long to-do list, getting from “yes I want to make this” to “eating it” in a little over an hour alone makes this the best thing I’ve made this year.
It also ticked off several other boxes: Lunch? Dinner? Vegetables? Protein? Quick? Forgiving? Flexible? Fun to eat? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check. And a few I hadn’t expected, such as a 6 year-old spying these very green pancakes in the fridge, requesting one, and then another. (I won’t tell him there’s Swiss chard in there if you don’t.) I only poured out about half the batter on Friday, but it keeps just fine in the fridge for a few days, if you’d like to make it over a few days. The pancakes also freeze very well, which is good, as it makes a lot.
Unsurprisingly, such a magical, works-the-first-time recipe hails from Dorie Greenspan via her Around My French Table cookbook, which is full additional unfussy French home cooking delights, things like Spur-Of-The-Moment Soup and Hurry-Up-And-Wait Chicken. But this is my new favorite. Farçous hail from Aveyron, France in the southwest and they have the texture of a thick crepe. There’s no melted butter or leavening in them, just a simple batter of eggs, flour, and milk with as much green stuff as you desire to blend into them (a mix of herbs, onion, garlic and greens is the norm). Swiss chard is the usual leafy green, but there’s no reason you can’t do it with spinach or kale. I used scallions in lieu of fresh onion and chives (as my herb garden up and froze on me the night before, sob).
In France, they’re served as a main course with salad, but around here, we found a dollop of lemony yogurt to be the perfect contrast. Were I planning more than 15 minutes ahead, I’d also make a batch of David Lebovitz’s carrot salad alongside, a longtime favorite of ours. Were I putting the Smitten Kitchen spin on it I was itching to, but for once, chose the least fussy route, I’d have crossed it with the saag paneer I’ve been craving all month, but that would have certainly put off how soon we got to enjoy these. So, here’s to dinner tonight (sorted!) and more straightforward good stuff like this.
One year ago: Mushroom Marsala Pasta Bake
Two years ago: Coconut Tapioca Pudding with Mango
Three years ago: Ethereally Smooth Hummus
Four years ago: Apple Sharlotka
Five years ago: Pizza with Bacon, Onions and Cream
Six years ago: Caramel Pudding and Barley Risotto with Beans and Greens
Seven years ago: Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew
Eight years ago: Lemon Bars and Crunch Baked Pork Chops
Nine years ago: Balthazar’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and World Peace Cookies
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Very Blueberry Scones
1.5 Years Ago: Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
2.5 Years Ago: Grilled Bacon Salad with Arugula and Balsamic
3.5 Years Ago: Bacon Corn Hash
4.5 Years Ago: Flatbreads with Honey, Thyme and Sea Salt
Swiss Chard Pancakes [Farçous]
Adapted, just a little, from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
As mentioned above, this is very flexible recipe. Once you have the milk, flour and egg base in place, you can add the suggested combination of onions, herbs and greens below or one more suited to your tastes/what you have in the fridge right now. We used a most of a bundle of scallions (white and green) instead of onion and chives. I used only one garlic clove.
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
10 fresh chives, snipped
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, split, germ removed, and coarsely chopped
Leaves from 10 parsley sprigs
5 large or 10 small Swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed, roughly chopped
About 1/2 cup (120 ml) grapeseed, peanut, vegetable, or olive oil
To serve: Plain, thick yogurt mixed with a little lemon zest, lemon juice and salt, to taste
If you’d like to keep your finished pancakes warm while you cook them: Heat oven to 250 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil.
Make the batter: Put everything except the Swiss chard and oil in a blender or food processor and whirl until the batter is smooth. Scrape down sides. Add chard leaves and pulse machine until they’re chopped to your desired consistency.
Cook the pancakes: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and pour in a good puddle (1/4-inch deep) of oil. Once oil is hot enough that a droplet of batter hisses and sputters, spoon about 3 tablespoons batter in per pancake. It will spread quickly. Cook until browned underneath and (the edges will scallop, adorably), then flip, cooking on the other side until browned again. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and then, if you’d like to keep them warm, to the foil-lined tray in the oven.
Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with lemony yogurt or another sauce of your choice.
Do ahead: Unused batter keeps in fridge for 3 days. Finished pancakes keep in fridge for a couple days, and will freeze much longer. Separate pancakes with pieces of waxed or parchment paper so they don’t glue together.