- Food & Drink
It’s the 23rd December and I know exactly what you’re thinking: I’ve got the presents, put up the tree, secretly eaten all the good ones out of the tin of Quality Street and put the sherry in the fridge, but NIGHTMARE! I’ve forgotten to make the crispy cheese pancakes in the manner of Findus! Christmas is RUINED.
Fear not. I have a nice recipe for you that’s guaranteed to turn out flannelly parcels stuffed with heart attack cheese sauce, just like the factory used to make. Christmas is saved! Hurrah!
Actually, I can give this a festive spin by talking to you about the cheeseboard. The cheeseboard you bought because you’ve got to have a cheeseboard at Christmas, stinky with Stilton, Brie, Cheddar, some obscure artisanal cheese, and an ashy goat’s cheese log.
The cheeseboard that you didn’t eat because you spent all morning scoffing Twiglets, olives and fancy crisps. And then ate a three course lunch featuring 40 different types of vegetable dish, a field of roast potatoes, buckets of gravy and a whole abattoir of roast meat. Followed by a canon ball pudding so heavy your lower intestine actually had to drop into your thighs to make room for it.
Now the cheeseboard is sat there, reeking and oozing in its mouldy casein glory. And you just can’t face it, even though you bought three kinds of chutney especially. And crackers! So many crackers.
So it gets rewrapped and put back in the fridge *for later*. A later that never entirely arrives, although the cheeseboard is re-assembled and put back on the buffet several times over the festive period. It gets picked at. Bored gluttons saw slithers off while they stand in tipsily front of the fridge at midnight. The cheese develops pockmarks and crusty wounds, but it limps on, never quite fulfilling its culinary destiny.
So this Christmas, say no to cheese neglect. Show it some love by turning it into a self-conscious homage to the industrial foods that fuelled your childhood. This Christmas, make savoury cheese pancakes.
Crispy cheese pancakes
Serves 6–10ish, depending on how generous you’re feeling with the pancakes
For the pancakes:
100g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
200ml whole milk
For the filling:
40g salted butter
30g plain flour
300ml whole milk
125g raclette cheese, chopped
30g Parmesan, finely grated
(Or use any combination of cheese from your neglected cheeseboard that you fancy)
For the coating:
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten
150g golden breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil, for frying
1 Make the pancakes: sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk in the egg to make a thick paste. Slowly whisk in the milk, a little at a time, until you have a smooth batter – add a little water if it seems a bit thick. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
2 Lightly grease a 15cm frying pan with sunflower oil. Place over a high heat and when it’s hot, add a large spoonful to the pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Fry for 1–2 minutes, loosening the sides with a palette knife. Flip and cook for a further 1 minute. Slide onto a plate and set aside. Repeat with the remaining batter, regreasing the pan as necessary, until you have used up all the batter. You should be able to make between 8 and 10 pancakes.
3 Make the filling: Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, the slowly add the milk, a dribble at a time, whisking well between each addition until you have a smooth white sauce. Continue to cook, whisking, for 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheeses and season with salt and white pepper.
4 Assemble your pancakes: sprinkle the plain flour on a plate, pour the beaten egg into another and sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto a third. Take one pancake and place about 2 tbsp of the filling slightly to one side of the pancake (left or right, depending on your preference). Brush the edges with water and fold the pancake over to cover the sauce. Press to seal and set aside. Repeat with the remaining pancakes and cheese sauce. Dip the pancakes in the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs to coat.
5 Pour about 3cm of oil into a deep frying pan and heat until a cube of bread dropped in sizzles and browns. Slide in the first two pancakes and fry, turning once, for 3–5 minutes or until golden. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes.
6 Serve the pancakes immediately, preferably with ketchup.