What to Eat in France: Crêpes Vonnassiennes, Vonnas-style Potato Pancakes
Vonnas in the east of France is the home of the legendary Michelin-star chef Georges Blanc. He is best known for his Bresse chicken with cream and mushrooms. Traditionally, this chicken is eaten with potato pancakes. This recipe is inspired by Blanc’s mother, La Mère Blanc, who ran his restaurant before him. He learned to cook at her apron strings.
Vonnas is in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, known for poulet de Bresse chickens and poultry, frogs, Reblochon and Beaufort cheese, as well as gratin dauphinois, made with raw potatoes, thick cream and garlic, and pork products, plentiful in the bouchons, small restaurants found in Lyon.
Servings: 8 or about 30 pancakes
Large pan of water
1 pound potatoes, peeled
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons flour
3 eggs + whites of 4 eggs
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or very thick cream
Butter for frying, about 1/2 pound
Thick frying pan
- Bring water to boil.
- Add salt.
- Add potatoes and boil until tender.
- Mash until smooth.
- Set aside to cool.
- Add flour and mix well.
- Add eggs and cream.
- Mix well. The “batter” should be like thick custard.
- Over very low heat, melt butter in small pan, taking care that it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.
- Skim milk fat off the top to make clarified butter, making sure it is completely skimmed.
- Add enough of this clarified butter to a frying pan for an initial batch of pancakes.
- Add a small ladle of batter for each pancake.
- Cook until edges start to dry and bubbles start to form.
- Turn and cook until golden brown on each side.
These crêpes are traditionally eaten with Bresse chicken with cream and mushroom sauce or with any other meat dish. They can also be eaten sweet with fruit and powdered sugar.
Jonell Galloway grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. She is a freelance writer. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris and the Académie du Vin, worked for the GaultMillau restaurant guide and CityGuides in France and Paris and for Gannett Company in the U.S., and collaborated on Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France; André Raboud, Sculptures 2002-2009 in Switzerland; Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain in France, At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, and a biography of French chef Pierre Gagnaire. She ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with her two sisters in the U.S. She organizes the Taste Unlocked bespoke food and wine tasting awareness workshops with James Flewellen, is an active member of Slow Food, and runs the food writing website The Rambling Epicure. Her work has been published in numerous international publications and she has been interviewed on international public radio in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. She has just signed on at In Search of Taste, a British print publication, and is now working on two books, The French and What They Eat and What to Eat in Venice.