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Market Galette

July 29, 2014 - Radio Kitchen - Market Galette

I've has become a big fan of taking vacations in Normandy, France.  There is something about the gentle Norman countryside that really appeals to me, and believe me you do eat well over there.  And one of the most popular items in Normandy threw Jerry a curve ball the first time I ever mentioned it, and that is the galette. 

Normally a galette is a tart like cake.  But in Normandy, the "galette" is a large savory crepe based on darker buckwheat flour.  The local word for the flour is "Sarasin," a reference to the mythical origins of buckwheat:  it supposedly came in with the Muslim invasion.  A Norman galette can be filled with nearly anything savory, as long as you can mince it to fit the folded crepe format.

The classic recipe for a galette is this:  Sarasin flour, water, salt.  So simple, it's easy to screw up.  Since what you are going for is a rather thin batter that has the consistency of half and half cream we prefer a slightly more involved recipe that gives us better results.  Here it is:

2 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
2 cups water, more if needed
1/2 cup clarified butter

1.  Sift the two flours into a bowl, and make a well in the middle.  Pour one cup milk into it, and whisk until smooth.  Slowly add a second cup of milk, and whisk.  

2.  Let the batter sit for an hour.  Slowly add the water, and whisk until the batter is the consistency of light cream.  Add additional milk to make thinner, if necessary.

Stir in about half of the clarified butter.

Here are some tips about cooking the galette.  You want a hot, but not scorching pan.  Just hot enough so that when you sprinkle a drop of water on it, it will sizzle.  Wipe the bottom of the skillet with a wadded paper towel to clean it.  Drizzle a little clarified butter into the middle of the skillet, then add the batter.  Lift the skillet off the heat, and rotate it so that the batter spreads in a thin even layer.  As soon as the galette sets up, flip it.  Cook it only a few seconds, then remove from heat.

The second side is usually the presentation side.  Cook your galettes one at a time.  You will be re-heating the galette later, so keep it between wax paper sheets in a warm oven.  When it comes time to add the fillings, you bring them back to a moderately hot pan to finish it off.

The most common galette is the one called "complète," literally complete.  It features eggs, cured ham and shredded Gruyere cheese.  The trick with working  eggs is this:  re-heat the non-presentation side first, flip it and then crack an egg  over the galette.  Return to low heat,  spread the egg with a knife and the egg will cook.   Cover the pan if necessary.  Add your thin slices of cured ham and the grated cheese.  Fold the sides over the center, or fold into a quartered circle.  Voilà.

Our inspiration was to go shopping at the Farmers Market for some seasonal vegetables and work them into a galette.  Here's what we came up with:  tender small zucchini and yellow summer squash, onions, small white creamer potatoes, a red pepper, an uncooked pork sausage, and some grated cheddar cheese.

Try this:  first, cut all the vegetables into small, 3/8 inch dice.  Gently sauté them in olive oil until tender.  Crumble some of the sausage, and sprinkle it into a separate pan.  Brown the sausage and drain the fat, then add into the vegetable mix.  Add a little heavy cream into the skillet, and stir over medium heat to make a sauce.  Season with salt, pepper and a good shaking of fines herbs.  Spoon some of the mixture over a warm galette, sprinkle on the cheese, and fold it up.  Allow a minute for the cheese to melt, then serve.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.