Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Socca to me.

I made socca the other night. Why? Well the other, other, night I went out drinking and then somehow found myself in a fancy food store buying $30 olive oil and $7 chickpea flour.

I am nothing if not impulsive. And chronically broke. 

Anyway, the one reason I buy chickpea flour is to make panisse and socca. As for the very expensive olive oil.... well that was beyond reason. Except for the fact that it is from Nice which is where La Maman is from and that's good enough for me.

Socca is a baked pancake made from chickpea flour. When I was in Nice, I ate it hot with my fingers, dusted with black pepper, sitting outside in the old part of town. I still eat it this way, only now with a glass of red wine.



I used the recipe in Colman Andrews excellent book "Flavors of the Riviera: Discovering Real Mediterranean Cooking", which is a workable version of Jacques Medicin's recipe.

This is all you need to make socca.
2 cups room temp water, 2-1/2 cups chickpea flour, half a cup of olive oil, and a tablespoon of salt.
You will also need a whisk and a heavy pan. I use a heavy steel paella pan.

Sift the flour into the water in small batches and whisk it in. I sift in the flour because I am never good at getting all the lumps whisked in. The important part is to whisk in a bit at a time to help avoid lumps.




Once all the flour is whisked in and the batter is lovely and smooth, whisk in 1/2 a cup of olive oil. Use regular olive oil, NOT $30 Nicoise olive oil. Duh.


The batter will be a lovely shade of yellow. A very Provencal yellow to my mind.
Cover the bowl and let it sit for one hour at room temperature.

After the hour is up, switch on the broiler and get the pan ready.


As you can see I am using a giant heavy paella pan. This pan was a gift from the Evil Twin. Well a re-gift. She got it at work as a sample. Don't ask, I never do. I just say "thank you".

However if you haven't got a sister to give you sample paella pans, you can use a sheet tray. Just line it with foil and make a foil bump-up about halfway or so down. You don't want the batter to be too thinly spread - it should be around half an inch to a quarter inch deep.

Whatever pan you use, oil it lightly but thoroughly. Pour the batter in and set the pan under the broiler.

I have a broiler drawer which I don't love. I would rather have a storage drawer and a broiler in the oven. But I didn't think about that when I got my new stove. Eh tant pis!

Settled into the broiler drawer!
Let it broil for about 4 minutes. I find that I need to turn the pan halfway through.

Then pop it into the oven at 450 for about 6 to 8 minutes. For me it takes the full 8 minutes because my oven and broiler cannot operate at the same time. But using the broiler first gets the oven pretty hot.

Behold the socca!!
As you can see it will pull away from the sides a bit and you really want to get the top nice and brown. I don't mind the burnt bits, when I remember to rotate the pan in the broiler it gets a much prettier shade of toast.

When you pull it out of the oven, slice it up any old which way, sprinkle some very finely ground pepper over it, pour yourself a glass of wine (red!) and eat the socca with your fingers.



A little side note is that cold socca is awful - it's like eating cold thick dry paste. However you can cut up the leftover socca into little bits and saute in hot olive oil. They are briefly delicious, just toss them in the rubbish when they cool. Thrice heated socca isn't worth the effort of keeping.

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