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Spicy Beef Picadillo Crêpes with Chipotle Crema

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Spicy Beef Picadillo Crêpes with Chipotle Crema

Spicy Beef Picadillo Crêpes with Chipotle Crema
James Baigrie
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total prep
Green olives, raisins, and a mix of warm spices give this beef filling an addictive sweet-sour-salty appeal, while the chipotle crema adds a luscious note. It adds up to sort of a sophisticated Sloppy Joe. The filling freezes nicely if you want to make just a half recipe of the crêpes. Serve this with a simple slaw of finely shredded green cabbage tossed with lime juice and a pinch of sugar and salt.

Recipe courtesy of Crêpes: 50 Savory and Sweet Recipes by Martha Holmberg/Chronicle Books, 2012.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon whole oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 lb/455g ground beef (preferably 80% lean)
  • One 14oz/400g can whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
  • 1/3 cup/150g coarsely chopped raisins
  • 1/2 cup/85g chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
  • 3/4 cup/180 ml sour cream
  • 1 small chipotle chile (from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 Versatile Crêpes (see recipe below)
  • 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups/420 to 540 ml whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups/190g all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp/85g unsalted butter, melted (preferably brown butter), plus regular unsalted butter for the pan


  • MAKE THE VERSATILE CREPES (Makes fifteen to eighteen 8in/20-cm crêpes):
  • Put 1 3/4 cups/420 ml of the milk, the eggs, and salt into a blender. Whiz for a few seconds to blend everything together. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth, about 20 seconds. Remove the lid, pour in the melted butter, cover, and whiz until combined, 10 seconds more.
  • Transfer the batter to a large glass measuring cup with a spout (or a bowl that’s large enough to easily dip a 1/4 cup/60 ml measuring cup into). Let the batter rest for at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. (If resting for more than 30 minutes, store in the fridge.) When you’re ready to make the crêpes, test the batter’s consistency; it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it feels too thick, whisk in up to 1/2 cup/120 ml more of the remaining milk.
  • Heat an 8-in/20-cm crêpe pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. Using a folded paper towel, spread about 1/2 tsp of butter around the interior of the pan. The butter should sizzle upon contact, but not instantly turn brown. You don’t want the pan to be so hot that the butter burns.
  • Pour about 1/4 cup/60 ml of the batter into the center of the pan, and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions so the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan in a thin circle. If the crêpe has any holes in it, quickly add a few drops of batter to fill them in. Or, if you have too much batter and the crêpe looks too thick, immediately pour the excess back into the measuring cup or bowl of batter. You can always trim off the "tail" that’s left behind later.
  • Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan, and the bottom is nicely browned, about 1 minute. To check for color, use a table knife, slim off-set spatula, or your fingers to lift up an edge of the crêpe and look underneath. When the first side is ready, use the knife, spatula, or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook until the center is firm and the second side is browned, too, about 20 seconds more. The first side is almost always much prettier and more evenly browned (in these recipes, we’ll call it the presentation side), while the second side tends to be more spotty.
  • Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate or cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more butter as you cook. You can stack the crêpes on the plate as they’re done. If you’re going to store them in the freezer, lay pieces of waxed or parchment paper between them so they don’t stick together. To keep in the fridge, just stack them neatly; no need for the paper separators. (Keep the stacks small if you usually cook for a few people, or make the stack larger if you find yourself cooking for a crowd most nights.) The crêpes will soften as they cool.
  • To store, wrap the stack in plastic wrap, and then slide it into a large zip-top freezer bag. The crêpes will keep in the fridge like this for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. To thaw, let the stack sit at room temperature until the crêpes are pliable, about an hour, and then peel them apart and proceed with your recipe.

  • MAKE THE BEEF PICADILLO: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, stir for 1 minute, and then stir in the cumin, 2 tsp salt, the thyme, oregano, Aleppo pepper, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring so the spices don’t burn, until everything is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and cook it, breaking it into small chunks with a wooden spoon, until most of the pink color is gone, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring and continuing to break up the meat into crumbles, until the mixture has come together and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the raisins and olives, and then season with more salt and spices, if necessary.

  • MAKE THE CHIPOTLE CREMA: Combine the sour cream, chipotle chile, lime juice, ½ tsp salt, and the cumin in a food processor or blender and purée until well combined and smooth. Thin out the crema with 2 to 3 tbsp of water until it reaches a consistency that is easy to drizzle but still has some body. Season with more salt, if necessary.

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300°F/150°C/gas 2. Put the crêpes on a large plate and cover it with foil. Heat the crêpes in the oven until they’re hot, about 10 minutes.
  • Lay the crêpes presentation-side down on a clean work surface. Spoon a scant ½ cup/120 ml of the picadillo filling in a thick horizontal line across the center of each one. Roll the crêpes into fat cylinders and transfer them seam-side down to large dinner plates, giving each person two crêpes. Drizzle the crêpes with the chipotle crema and serve right away.