In the late 1970s, if you happened to be in Central Florida and wanted a truly special meal, there was one place to go: the Empress Lilly. For 18 years, the regally appointed ship beckoned diners with the finest menu at Walt Disney World. Gourmets, park lovers, romantics all agreed: The Lilly—named in honor of Walt’s first lady, Lillian Bounds Disney—was the place to go.
On April 22, 1995, the Empress Lilly’s three famed restaurants served their last meals, and the boat itself eventually became home to a present-day Walt Disney World favorite, Fulton’s Crab Shack. In remembrance of this bygone treasure, we are featuring the most popular luncheon item on the menu, the Chicken Crêpes Lilly.
Chicken Crêpes Lilly
1 cup flour
¾ cup milk
½ cup water
3 tablespoons melted butter
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, warmed
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 shallots, finely chopped
12 white button or cremini mushrooms
1 pound cooked, diced chicken breast
⅓ cup sherry
Butter, for brushing pan
¼ cup grated Parmesan
Sliced almonds, for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
For the crêpes:
- Combine eggs, flour, milk, water, butter, and salt in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. Refrigerate batter at least 30 minutes.
- Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Brush a bit of butter in pan, and add about 2 tablespoons batter to pan, swirling to form a thin circle. Cook until light golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
- Place cooked crêpes on a large plate separated by layers of parchment paper. Repeat with remaining batter.
For sauce Mornay:
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, stirring until golden. Slowly whisk in milk, making sure there are no lumps. Add salt and white pepper.
- Cook, whisking constantly, until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Pour half of sauce in a medium heat-safe bowl and set aside to cool completely.
- Add Parmesan to remaining half of sauce in saucepan and stir to melt cheese. Set aside to cool completely.
- Whip cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold cooled portion of sauce with cheese into whipped cream and set aside.
For crêpe filling:
- Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and sherry, cooking until chicken is warm.
- Lower heat to low and add portion of Sauce Mornay without cheese. Simmer, stirring often, until mixture is thickened slightly.
- Preheat broiler.
- Place about 2 to 3 tablespoons filling in the center of each crêpe, and roll into a cylinder. Place crêpes, seam-side down in a shallow, ovenproof dish.
- Spoon the Sauce Mornay with cheese and whipped cream over crêpes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Broil crêpes until golden. Garnish with sliced almonds and chopped fresh parsley.
Cook’s Note: White pepper has a slightly floral flavor, and is used primarily to keep the final dish pure white. Black pepper may be substituted.