While researching the origin of socca and found this description from a blog article titled Socca and Semantics by Jeannette Ferrary. It describes socca better than I ever could:
“Socca is the specialty of Nice where it is made in flat, cast iron pans a yard across; it emerges like a huge sun-gold crepe with sizzling crispy bits that tingle on your tongue. It’s a street food, made on the spot, instant gratification for tourists and native soccaphiles alike. It tastes of its origins, the passion of its native land, its stories and legends. There’s something primitive and earthy about socca as it takes on the color of fire and leaves the cave of its wood-burning oven. In Nice, they cut it into rough wedges and hand it to you wrapped in a paper cone. You eat it with your fingers and your grateful mouth and your whole heart.”
These thin, unleavened chickpea flour pancakes from France are traditionally made in large pans and baked in open ovens. I use an old 8-inch crepe pan to make mine but you can use a cast-iron skillet or any pan that will withstand the high heat of the oven. I flavor my socca with fresh rosemary and caramelized onions. If you are a socca purist, leave the onions out.
This recipe makes two pancakes in my 8-inch crepe pan. The recipe may be easily doubled.
1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided
½ onion (chopped fine)
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary (chopped fine)
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a well-seasoned skillet in oven to get hot while making the socca batter.
Put chickpea flour in a bowl along with the salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream. If too thick, add a tablespoon of warm water one at a time until just right. Cover and let sit until the oven is thoroughly heated.
Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a separate skillet on medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring once or twice, until they’re well browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the rosemary. Stir the onions and rosemary into the batter.
Carefully remove the skillet from the oven (it is HOT.) Pour half of the batter into the well-seasoned skillet and bake in the oven for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the pancake is firm and the edges set. Turn the oven off and turn the broiler on
Carefully remove the hot skillet and brush the top of the pancake with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Return the skillet to the oven and set the pancake a few inches away from the broiler. Keep the oven door open so you can see the pancake brown. Cook just long enough to brown it in spots. Quickly remove from the oven and cut it into wedges. Cover the pancake with a towel to keep warm. Pour the balance of the batter into the hot skillet and repeat for the second pancake.