In this comforting casserole, crêpes are filled with a fragrant chicken, tomato, and mushroom mixture, topped with a cheese sauce, and baked. For speed and ease, this recipe calls for leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken, but you can roast your own chicken or just use chicken breasts if you prefer. I find the roast chicken to be more flavorful and tender than plain baked boneless, skinless chicken breast.
For the filling:
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter; more softened for the baking dish
8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2-1/2 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium (8 oz.) red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into small dice
1 large mild fresh green chile (such as Anaheim) cored, seeded, and cut into small dice-these peppers or chiles have very little spice to them but have a nice flavor.
1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
2 cups chopped leftover roast chicken or store-bought rotisserie chicken.
For the cheese sauce:
3 cups milk-hot- heat in microwave for 3-4 minutes
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
12 -8-inch crepes, warmed if made ahead
1 tsp. sweet paprika (optional)
Make the cheese sauce:
Now we will make a bechamel for the topping on the crepes cacciatore. In a medium sized pot on medium heat, add the 4 tablespoons of butter, once it is melted, add the 4 tablespoons of flour, mix in well, and let cook for 1-2 minutes, you have now made a roux.
Slowly whisk in the 3 cups of hot milk. Continue whisking until all the lumps are gone. Then use a straight edged spoon to mix constantly until the sauce is quite thick, this will take 7-8 minutes. Turn the heat to very low. Then add the 1 cup parmesan cheese. Let the cheese melt into the cream sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper, how much depends on your taste buds. Parmesan can be quite salty, that’s why I wanted you to add the salt after the cheese.
Make the filling:
In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil and the butter over medium-high heat until sizzling. Add the mushrooms, season with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release much of their liquid and begin to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and return the skillet to the heat.
Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil, the bell pepper, anaheim pepper, onion, rosemary, and 1 tsp. salt. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes; don’t let them brown.
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook for a minute or so, stirring and scraping so the flour gets mixed with the fat and starts to toast a bit. Add the broth and let it come to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice, and hot sauce; bring to a simmer again and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to slightly thicken the sauce.
Add the chicken and mushrooms and simmer for a few minutes until everything is heated through. Remove from the heat and season to taste with more salt, pepper, hot sauce, or lemon juice. I like a little sweetness, so I added a little agave syrup. Cover the filling and keep warm.
Working with a few crêpes at a time, lay them on a clean work surface. Spoon about 3 heaping Tbs. of the filling evenly onto the bottom third of each crêpe. Fold the bottom edge of each crêpe up and over the filling, fold the sides in toward the center, and finish rolling up from the bottom. Evenly arrange the crêpes seam side down in a single layer in the baking dish.
Spread the cheese sauce evenly over the crêpes and sprinkle with the paprika (if using). Bake until the sauce is golden and bubbling slightly, 12 to 16 minutes. Serve. I topped with a little tomato sauce over the cream sauce and parmesan before baking, this is just an option.
make ahead tips
The filling may also be made up to 3 days ahead. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat over medium-low heat before using it. You can also freeze this dish for use at a later date. After you spread the cream sauce evenly over the crepes, let the entire dish cool completely, wrap well and freeze.