Many many months ago, when I was clinging onto the hopes that spring would, at some point, arrive, I made a meal for Adam and myself. It had been an extremely dark and depressing winter, with periods of deep sadness, deep snow, and deep bowls of baked goods.
In early March, I experienced the meal of my life at Alinea with my blog-turned-real-life friend, Jackie, and quickly sought to recreate one of the remarkable dishes we ate there. I made braised short ribs over the course of two days, cooking and braising, then cooling and cooking some more. They were quite possibly, one of my favorite meals that I've ever cooked.
My "right now" is so much different than it was back in March. The fog has definitely lifted, and as I said the other day, I think I have my mojo back. Now that fall is creeping in on the heels of a truly amazing Summer, I wanted nothing more than to recreate that braised short rib dinner that I made in a haze last March.
I wanted this meal so much that, on a Sunday, at 1 p.m, I braved the crowds at the produce market to purchase that which I needed: short ribs, celery, carrots, onion, red wine, garlic, thyme…and apparently some thrown elbows, bruised calves, and stubbed toes. But it was worth it! The meat is the best, and the produce is fresh, and its worth the trip!
Dinner braised over the course of 5 hours, made the house smell amazing, and I eagerly awaited the moment I could fish the tender meat out of the rich sauce… and serve it with… wait.
Crap. I had polenta before. Polenta's not exactly South Beach Diet friendly… I busted out some broccoli and roasted it to crispy perfection.
I have a newfound love for the crispy and chewy thin pancake known to the French as "socca", the Italians as "farinata" and to the Argentinians, "cecina." I know that socca made its way around the blog world back in January, but again… deep dark winter, not much cooking, you know the drill by now.
Socca (as I'll be calling it) is a thin unleavened pancake or crepe made out of garbanzo bean flour, water, olive oil, and a variety of spices (usually cumin). When I've made them, I've found that I like a touch of garlic powder instead of cumin much to the chagrin of my students. Oh well. I like what I like!
We've been eating a lot of socca lately because it's delicious, but also because it's low-carb, high-protein, and makes an excellent wrap for things. Like braised short ribs.
And a little closer, so you can see the deliciousness for yourself:
I used the recipe for socca from David Leibowitz, replacing cumin with garlic powder.
About three 9 10-inch (23cm) pancakes
- 1 cup (130g) chickpea flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (280ml) water
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
freshly-ground black pepper, plus additional sea salt and olive oil for serving
1. Mix together the flour, water, salt, cumin, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature.
2. To cook, heat the broiler in your oven. Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) pan with the remaining olive oil and heat the pan in the oven.
(I use a cast-iron skillet, but Tricia uses a non-stick tart pan.)
3. Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it back in the oven.
4. Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler.
5. Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
6. Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one.
Needless to say, I'm in love.
I'm thinking I may need to make pizza with a socca as the base, much like Ashley did way back when…