I did not expect to find a new French dish that I had never heard of before coming to the US though! My friend C. cooked Socca for me the other day, assuming I knew all about Socca. I had NO idea of what she was talking about. "Oh, you know, this chickpea-flour sort of pancakes they serve in Nice".
I was still in the dark, trying very hard to see whether somewhere in the back of my brain, the name Socca was going to ring a bell. Nothing! Strange feeling to discover something from my own country, especially when my in-laws live near Nice and we go there to visit them at least once a year. I asked my husband, his parents and mine about Socca and nobody knew about it... as if only people FROM Nice know about them (I am from Paris after all...). A well-kept secret in need of being told around...
My friend cooked Socca with fresh rosemary and I (and my younger child) loved it immediately. It's thicker than a traditional savory crepe but thinner than your usual pancake. The chickpea flavor is subtle. Yet you can definitively tell you are not eating wheat.
At my next trip to the supermarket, I bought Chickpea Flour (Bob's Red Mill flour), looked up a few recipes online, and tried it on my other child and my husband a few days later. Perfect score! I made it again last night: one plain with fresh thyme for my children and one (the "Built Up") with caramelized onions for my husband and I. Ours was even better than the plain one because the caramelized onions added a nice taste and some moisture to the Socca. Definitively something I'll have on my weekly menus together with soup or just a plain salad... because it's so good (and needless to repeat that Chickpeas are really good for you!) Bon Appétit!
Ingredients (makes about 3 Socca in a 9 inch (23cm) dish)
(inspired by David Lebovitz)
- 1 cup (180g) chickpea flour
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbs water (280ml)
- 1 1/2 Tbs Olive Oil + 1 Tbs for cooking
- Salt, fresh black pepper
- Fresh Rosemary/ Fresh Thyme to taste
For the Caramelized Onions:
- 2 onions minced
- Olive Oil
Making the Socca batter:
- In a bowl, combine chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil and the herb.
- Stir and leave it on the kitchen counter for at least one hour (covered)
Caramelizing the onions:
- In a skillet, heat the Olive Oil and stir in the onions.
- Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until caramelized
Cooking the Socca:
For the Caramelized Onion version,
- Preheat the oven to 500F (260C)
- Put a baking dish (or cast-iron skillet) in the oven with 1 Tbs of olive oil on it
- When the oil is really hot, take the dish/skillet out.
- Turn the Broiler On
- Pour one third of the batter to cover the bottom of your dish/skillet. It has to be thinner than a pancake but thicker than a crepe.
- Cook under the broiler until the Socca is firm and a little bit brown.
- You can serve it in your dish or try to put it on another serving dish.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste
- Pour some more olive oil in the pan/skillet and cook the remaining of batter
- Pour the caramelized onions in the batter before pouring the batter on the dish/skillet
- Cook until the Socca is firm and the onion start to burn a little bit on the top.
- Add salt and black pepper to taste
My personal comments:
- The Caramelized onion version is softer than the plain Socca: I found it harder to put on a serving dish, so I just cut pieces out of my pan.
- If I don't want to caramelize onions, I add Cayenne Pepper to the batter to spice it up a little bit.
- Some people add Olive oil on top of the Socca before serving it.
- Don't make the Socca too thin otherwise it will be too hard and dry.
- Some people serve the Socca to munch on with a drink before dinner.
- I don't have a cast-iron skillet (next on my "things to get" list), so I use my regular tarte (quiche) dish.