So I’ve got a bad feeling right about now. Not one of those “oh no, disaster is imminent” kinds of feelings, but more like a “I totally missed out on that” deprived kind of feeling. As it turns out, kids in Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Italy and Iceland (and possibly even more countries) have been happily enjoying a childhood staple known as the Findus Crispy Pancake for years. Apparently if you talk to any person who was a child from the 1970’s on in these countries they will become oh so nostalgic and wax poetic about these crispy pancakes, the most wonderful comfort food they remember. From the many blogs I’ve read, it seems that children really wanted these mass-produced , deep-fried, frozen savoury pancakes which were filled with apparently suspect meat (more on that later…) and gloopy sauces, but their wise Moms (lesson here…always listen to your mom…) wouldn’t let them have them. Now that they’re grown, they’ve found that if they are feeling a bit retro and can’t find these little blasts from the past in their local market, (you can possibly blame the great UK Findus Factory fire from a few years back…) they can just make them at home. Even Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from the River Cottage has tried his hand at reproducing the classic treat. (Take a look at the video link of him doing just that noted below). But for those of us here in the U. S. of A….not a crispy pancake in sight. In fact, I had never heard of them until I read about them on Warm & Snug & Fat (great blog! ). That was the moment that I figured out that I had been cheated!
But what is a Crispy Pancake? Well apparently it is a pancake which has been filled with various mixtures of meats and or cheese, folded over, breaded and deep-fried. Findus sold many varieties of these frozen delicacies, such as Cheddar Cheese, Chicken Sweetcorn & Bacon, Chicken Curry, Minced Beef & Onion, Ham & Cheese, Tomato & Mozzarella. They even tried to get a bit posh and sell a Lobster Thermidor one a few years back. But alas, Findus was recently hit with quite a scandal back in 2013 when it was revealed that the “beef” in their beef lasagne was actually mostly horse meat. And that was not true only of the lasagne beef, turns out that the beef in the Minced Beef Crispy Pancake was also quite suspect. Yikes! (As I said…always listen to your Mom).
Hmmm…I’m thinking that these Findus Pancakes sound a bit like Hot Pockets, but not really. And horse meat scandal aside, I was really curious about these little devils. As I’m sure those of you who have been following along with me know, the husband and I love meat pies, and this is basically a meat pie in a deep-fried kind of pancake way. So, there was nothing to be done but to go ahead a make a bunch up. I did the Chicken, Sweetcorn & Bacon recipe as did Amee at Warm & Snug & Fat. I must say, Savory Crispy Pancakes are delicious! I don’t know if these are anything like those original Findus ones from everyone’s (but mine) childhood, but wow, they are pretty yummy! Crispy and crunchy on the outside, with a warm rich and gooey bacon-y filling. These are great for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner…Oh and then there is Pancake Tuesday (Pancake Day). You know the day that some folks call Fat Tuesday? The Tuesday before Lent. These would be just the thing to serve then. Whew! I’m so glad I’m in the know now…make up a batch today so that you will be too! And if you grew up privy to this pancake secret, you should really do a Findus Pancake brunch, complete with fancy champagne drinks and all, just for old times sake…
Savory Crispy Pancakes
For the Pancakes:
- 165 grams all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 small egg
- About 300ml whole milk
- Oil for frying
For the Chicken/Sweet corn filling:
- 25 grams butter
- 25 grams all-purpose flour
- 250 ml hot chicken stock
- Kernels sliced from 1 cob of corn (3/4 cup corn)
- 2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced (about 4 ounces)
- 6 slices bacon, diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp chopped thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For Final Assembly:
- 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 200 grams Panko or fine white bread crumbs
- A little paprika (optional)
- A little turmeric (optional) -Apparently these pancakes a la Findus had a pronounced nuclear orange coloring and the tumeric will help you achieve this fake tan look.
- Oil, for frying
For the Pancakes:
Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Break the egg into the centre, then start whisking it into the flour, gradually incorporating the milk. Keep adding milk and whisking until you have a smooth batter the consistency of single cream. Rest the batter in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the Filling:
Melt the butter in a small pan over a medium heat. Stir in the flour to make a roux, then cook this gently for two minutes. Remove from the heat, add a good splash of the hot stock and beat until you have a smooth paste. Repeat with a little more stock, then a little more. Add the remaining stock in two or three lots, beating well with each addition to get rid of any lumps. Return the pan to the heat. Bring slowly to a simmer, and cook gently for a couple of minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Add the chicken, bacon, corn kernels, garlic and herbs and simmer for another five minutes or so, until the chicken is completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool.
To Cook the Pancakes:
Heat a little oil in a small frying pan (about 6″ or 15cm in diameter) over a high heat. Pour in 1/3 cup of the pancake batter, immediately swirling the batter around to form a pancake (don’t make it too thin – these need to be a little more robust than your standard crepe). Cook for a minute or two, until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake and it is golden-brown underneath. Flip it and cook the other side for another 30 seconds or so. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter.
To assemble, take one pancake and spoon some of your chosen filling on to one half of it. You only need a tablespoonful or so – don’t overfill the pancakes. Brush some beaten egg around the edge of the pancake and sprinkle on a little flour to form a natural glue. Fold the pancake over to make a half-moon shape, and press the edges to seal.
Put the flour in a deep dish and season well with salt and pepper. Put the beaten eggs in a second dish, then the Panko or breadcrumbs in a third. Season the breadcrumbs, if you like, with paprika and turmeric – not essential but it gives the pancakes their fake tan orange colour, which is large part of their charm. Dip the stuffed pancakes into each of the three dishes until completely breaded.
Heat a 1mm layer of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the breaded pancakes a few at a time, for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and piping hot in the middle. Drain briefly on kitchen paper. Serve straight away.
Savory Crispy Pancakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)