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Recipe: Socca
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EARTHY AND AROMATIC SOCCA,

STREET FOOD OF SOUTHERN FRANCE

 

Long before I fell in love with French perfumes, I was in love with French cooking—and this week, instead of a perfume post, I thought I’d share with you a recipe that is (unlike most French recipes) super simple to make and indescribably delicious. The recipe is for Socca, the chickpea-flour crepe that is one of the beloved street foods of Nice, France. The Niçoise way of making socca involves baking the batter in a shallow, but very large, round cast-iron or copper pan in a wood-fired oven, until the top is crispy and the bottom and middle are somewhat moist. Because it’s baked in an open oven, the top is often “raked” while baking to achieve that blistery, crispy effect. It is then served piping hot from the oven—yes, it’s the kind of thing that must be eaten straight away and not left to cool—sprinkled liberally with black pepper, and either cut into slices or torn apart with the fingers.

 

In northern Italy, this same chickpea crepe is made with fresh rosemary and known as Farinata—and that is the version of the recipe that I make. This recipe is not mine—it’s one that has crisscrossed the Internet so many times, it’s hard to know who to attribute it to anymore, but basically it is an adaptation of Mark Bittman’s recipe published in the New York Times in October 2005. Bittman’s version includes onion as well as rosemary, and though you might choose to eliminate both if you like, I now find them essential to the earthy, aromatic character of the socca (or farinata, whichever you prefer to call it).

 

SOCCA (FARINATA)

 

1 cup chickpea flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

1 cup water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced

¼ cup fresh onion, minced

 

1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil

 

Sea salt & pepper for sprinkling

 

1. Set oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit—and while oven is heating, put a 12” cast-iron skillet in oven so that it comes to temperature at the same time.

 

2. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl with salt and pepper. Slowly add water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, again whisking until batter is smooth. Set aside batter so that it rests (at room temperature) while the oven and skillet are heating up. Ideally, the batter should rest for at least 30 minutes (and can safely rest for up to 12 hours, if you wish to prepare the evening before).

 

3. Stir the minced rosemary and onion into the batter. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into heated skillet, carefully swirling the hot skillet so that the oil covers it evenly. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.

 

4. Heat broiler and place the baked socca (still in skillet) under the broiler for 2 minutes, just long enough to brown it spottily. Cut socca into wedges and serve hot, sprinkled with sea salt and pepper if desired.

Image: my own photo.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 11/12/2009.


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