Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Cornmeal Crepes, Mushroom Ragout, Fried Egg

In my second month of culinary school, I decided it was time to get a job in a restaurant kitchen. After much Craigslisting, I scored my very first trail—cookspeak for "work for free for a night and we'll decide whether to keep you." My potential employer was a nouveau Southern joint, since shuttered, where the tasting menu was billed as "five courses plus pie." I showed up fresh-faced and quaking in my clogs.

I was told to break down a dozen chickens, roast trays of veal bones I could hardly lift, and julienne what seemed like a whole haystack of leeks. When that was done, I was put in charge of making all the cornmeal crêpes for that night's crawfish and andouille crêpe special. Only, my nonstick crêpe pan hadn't prepared me to man a cast-iron skillet, let alone three at a time, and certainly not under every-move-you-make scrutiny.

The crêpes—after the first ten or 15 duds—turned out great. Chef just needed them an hour ago. I didn't get the job, and I couldn't even look at a cornmeal crêpe for the next year and a half.

I'm glad I've achieved closure with cornmeal crêpes, because I really missed eating them. They're a little heartier than French crêpes, much yellower, and taste distinctly tortilla-like even while retaining the classic crêpe's pliant texture. Here, I've stuffed them with mushroom ragoût and a runny fried egg, but you could use ham, or cheese, or a quick "ratatouille" of sautéed vegetables bound with crushed tomatoes. Try them for dessert, too, spread with ricotta and honey and rolled up like cigars.

Shopping List

Note: Items bought in large quantities, like the eggs, cornmeal, and sour cream, have been prorated for cost. Ingredients a cook can reasonably be expected to have on hand are considered "pantry items" and are not factored into recipe cost.

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal: $0.37 (cost of 2-pound bag: $1.99)
3 ounces sour cream: $0.75 (cost of 8-ounce container: $1.99)
2 shallots: $0.40
7 large eggs: $1.27 (cost of 1 dozen eggs: $2.19)
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms (crimini, portobello): $5.19

Pantry Items
Flour, milk, butter, tomato paste, salt and pepper

Total Cost:



Cornmeal Crêpes

Adapted from Gourmet

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