Last month I wrote about a restaurant in Berkeley, CA, called Socca Oven, where all they serve are Soccas. Soccas are Provencal pancakes (savory or sweet) that are traditionally made with chickpea flour (garbanzo flour).
Soccas go back at least to 1860. They are from Southern France, but were most likely an import from Northern Africa, where they eat a lot of chickpeas. In the 19th Century, there were Socca sellers at the markets and at work sites where they provided the favorite morning meal of the workers. The Socca sellers used special wagons with built-in charcoal ovens to keep their wares hot while they announced them with the appropriate cries of Socca! Socca! Socca!
I became interested in Soccas because they are allergen-free, gluten-free, low carb, high protein, and delicious!
I have kept my Socca recipe simple, because I like the rustic flavor. You can top it with olive oil, salt and fresh pepper, or go all out, topping it with things like carmelized onions and grilled rosmary chicken breast. For inspiration go the Socca Oven website at Soccaoven.com and look at their offerings. It will give you an idea of the kind of fun you can have with soccas.
Socca de Nice
1 1/2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons olive oil*
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups chickpea flour
Preheat oven to 575 degrees (f)
In a large bowl, whisk together water, olive oil, and salt. Add chickpea flour, a little at a time, whisking in completely. You want this batter smooth! Once you've added all the flour, and whisked it so it has absolutely no lumps, set aside. Preheat an 11 1/2 inch cast iron skillet in the oven, 4-5 minutes. Remove (with an oven mitt or potholder, this baby is HOT!). Put a little olive oil in the pan. Swirl it around. Then, working quickly, add a heaping 1/2 cup of the batter to the pan, swirling it around to fill the pan in an even layer. Put in oven and cook 5-7 minutes, till browned a bit around the edges. Remove from oven. Flip. It should be golden brown on the bottom. Remove to plate, add a little more olive oil to the pan, another 1/2 cup batter and cook, and so on. This recipe makes 4 socca, ie 4 servings. Eat hot. You can cut it into wedges and dip it into olive oil, or drizzle olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
* to add herbal flavor, you my heat 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs like rosemary or thyme in the olive oil for 2 minutes over medium heat. Let the olive oil cool before making recipe.
You may also make these on the stove top. I like the texture slightly better in the oven, but the stove top is much quicker. To do so, heat your cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add a little olive oil. Once hot, add batter. Cook about 1 minute, flip, cook 1 minute more. Remove from pan.