Another day, another braise. This is the first time I made this recipe for Crespelle, which is a crepe. I know, I said burrito in the heading, but that was really to get your attention. These crepes are filled with braised lamb shank, ricotta cheese, and mint. Another cold weather home run! These were really easy to make, only time is required–A great candidate for a Sunday meal.
This recipe comes from A16: Food + Wine by Nate Appleman and Shelly Lindgren, which is also the name of Nate and Shelly’s fantastic restaurant of the same name in the San Francisco marina district. This recipe is straight from the book, however I have added a few of my notes:
Lamb and Ricotta Crespelle with Tomato and Pecorino
2 Cups whole milk
1.5 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tbl melted butter
.5 tsp salt
Whisk all of the above ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Many recipes for crepe batter recommend letting the batter sit in the fridge for several hours (The A16 recipe suggests that the batter sit overnight–I didn’t do that, and the crepes came out fine). Strain the batter into a measuring cup with a spout, in order to make it easier when pouring the batter into the pan later. I halved the above recipe, and made close to 8-10 crepes.
Lamb and Ricotta Filling:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
.25 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lb Lamb Shanks
2 C Fresh Ricotta
Leaves from 2 sprigs mint
.25 tsp red chile flakes.
To prepare the lamb shanks, combine the garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Coat the lamb shanks with the mixture and a generous pinch of salt, and refrigerate overnight. Or so the recipe says. I let the shanks sit at room temp in the marinade while the oven preheated and I emptied the dishwasher. I am a firm believer that *most* of the time, marinating overnight will give the same results as marinating for an hour or so on a countertop. Preheat the oven to 325°. Place the shanks in a large dutch oven, barely cover them in water, put the lid on the pot, and place in the oven. Cook for 3 hours or so, until the meat is falling off the bone.
Remove the pot from the oven, and let the shanks cool in a large bowl. Let the cooking liquid settle for 30 minutes or so, and skim the fat from the surface. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, pull it from the bones, and shred it into smallish pieces. Combine in a bowl with the ricotta, mint and chile flakes. I would add more chile flakes next time. Set the filling aside. Preheat the oven to 450°.
2 tbl Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
.25 tsp chile flakes (or more)
.33 cups white wine
1 28 oz can whole peeled (low sodium) tomatoes, placed in a bowl and smashed with a spoon or your hands–hands is way easier, albeit a little messier. Smoosh the tomatoes underneath the liquid to prevent excess clean up.
Pecorino Romano and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for finishing.
To make the lamb sauce, add the olive oil to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Add the garlic and chile flakes and sauté for around 3 minutes. Carefully add the wine, turn up the heat to medium high, and reduce until the wine has nearly evaporated. Add 1 cup of the reserved braising liquid and cook until reduced at least by half, or a little more, approximately 10 minutes. Add the smooshed tomatoes, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and set aside.
Make the crepes in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Brush with a little butter, and add about .25 C of the crespelle batter, swirling the pan to make a very thin 8 inch or so crepe. Cook on each side until golden, about 2 minutes each side. Continue until all the batter is used and you have a stack 16-20 crepes.
To assemble and finish, spread about .5 cup of the filling horizontally in the middle of a crespella, fold over and roll up, and place on a roasting pan. Repeat.
Heat the crespelle for at least five minutes in the oven, rotating the pan, until the ends of the crepes become brown. Ladle about .5 cup of warm sauce on a plate, place two crespelles on the sauce, and grate some pecorino on top, adding a bit of olive oil if desired.
Wait! Did you actually spend a day making this and realize you had more filling then crepes? Chef Appleman recommends heating extra filling gently and tossing it together with pasta, frozen peas and extra mint. I did just that, and it was pretty tasty. At least you won’t have to cook a day during the work week….