Crepes with Ham, Gruyere and Chard

One of the bounties of our garden last year was Swiss Chard. If you’ve never had it before, it’s very similar to spinach. John seems to think it has a little more flavour than spinach; I’m not sure. Perhaps it does, perhaps it doesn’t. Either way, it’s prepared the same way you’d prepare spinach and can be used interchangeably with spinach.

When a co-worker brought in a British food magazine this week, I came across a recipe for Pancakes with Ham, Gruyere and Spinach. Well, we just happened to have some black forest ham, and some gruyere cheese in the fridge; and we still had a bit of frozen chard in the freezer. As well, I have a good recipe for pancakes. Now, I should say that the pancakes in the recipe are not what we North Americans consider pancakes. These are more like crepes, thin and yummy. I’ve been making them for a long time, filling them with something my mother-in-law used to call “ragout”, a meat sauce made with ground beef in a white sauce, well seasoned and yummy. It was always a favourite at our dinner table.

I’ve had a bit of a craving for these thin pancakes lately, but didn’t want to make the ragout so coming across this recipe and some other suggestions, both sweet and savoury, came at just the right time.

The pancake recipe I use comes from a cookbook entitled “Let’s Go Dutch, A Treasury of Dutch Cuisine” by Johanna (van der Zeijst) Bates. The recipe is “Johnny’s Skinny Pancakes”. In Holland, they’re simply known as pannekoeken and are usually quite large, about 12″ across and often filled with either sweet or savoury fillings. Personally, I prefer the savoury fillings but I prefer savoury over sweet in  just about all foods.

This is one of those recipes that is eminently variable. These pancakes can be filled with whatever you’d like, really. Don’t have Gruyere? Try Gouda, or cheddar, or mozzarella. Don’t have Black Forest ham? Substitute another deli meat. Don’t like chard? Omit it!  For a taste variation, try spreading the crepe with a bit of Dijon mustard before adding the other fillings.

Do you prefer a sweet filling? What about a layer of ricotta cheese and some cherry pie filling? Or peach preserves? Or apple sauce? Or, as I like them now and then, just some butter, sugar and cinnamon. Do you have a favourite way of serving pannekoeken or crepes? Share!!

Here’s my version of Crepes with Ham, Gruyere and Chard.

[printable version]

Pannekoeken (or Crepes)

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (do not use skim)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or melted butter)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mix flour and salt together in a mixing bowl. Whisk milk, eggs and oil together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well.

Preheat a large nonstick frying pan over med-high heat. Lightly grease the pan and pour in a ladle of batter. Swirl the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Fry for a minute or so or until the edges come away from the frying pan and the pancake is a light golden colour. Flip and fry the second side. Remove from pan and set aside on a warmed plate. Continue until all the batter is used.

Crepes with Ham, Gruyere and Chard

  • Black Forest Ham, thinly sliced
  • Gruyere cheese, grated
  • Frozen Swiss Chard (or spinach)
  • Crepes (or pannekoeken)

If the chard or spinach is frozen, using a sharp serrated knife, cut off a chunk and allow it to thaw. Squeeze as much moisture as possible from the chard and chop. If you prefer to use fresh chard or spinach, lightly cook the chard until wilted; cool. Squeeze out excess water and chop.

For each crepe:

Place crepe on your cutting board or a plate and top with a slice of Black Forest Ham (this one has two slices because one was a very thin half slice).

Top with some of the chopped chard.

Sprinkle with grated Gruyere. There’s no need to overdo it as the crepe will be folded in half.

Fold the crepe in half and transfer to a hot frying pan (medium-high heat). Fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until both sides are golden brown and the filling is hot and gooey.

Transfer to your plate and dig in!

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