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Crispy cornmeal pancakes perfect for fall

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Oct 05, 2017

(Oct. 6, 2017) The debate of pancakes or waffles has caused utter mayhem and should be approached with caution.

Those who profess their love for the nooks and crannies will consider nothing less. On the other hand, staunch supporters of the breakfast treats that showcase the smooth, golden surface will remain steadfast and stand in loyalty.

Decisions come about on a daily basis, and I must acknowledge I am partial to homemade pancakes. The tall, fluffy stacks look so inviting as the thick syrup oozes down the edges of the mouth-watering delight. This yummy image is known to all and rekindles memories of my childhood.

However, these delectable customs are becoming lost in the shuffle of progress. The rapid pace of urbanism has pivoted fast food to a permanent place at the American table. This convenience comes at a hefty price; the art of “home cooking” is becoming obsolete. Tradition is a gift and should be remembered for future generations.

Homemade pancakes are simple to make and produce much better results than quicker alternatives. Following are a few tips for those who crave lip-smacking pancakes.

Too much gluten development in pancake batter is the enemy of tender texture.

Keeping the batter lumpy and allowing it to rest are the secrets to perfect pancakes. Over mixing is a sure way to produce tough, rubbery cakes.

The griddle or skillet must be hot enough for a successful dish. This is why directions suggest testing a few before committing to the entire batter. It is understood the first couple of pancakes will not produce the best results.

Pancakes do not necessarily have to be sweet; savory pancakes are just as “hot.” Crispy cornmeal pancakes, topped with sautéed greens and bacon vinaigrette, and crowned with poached eggs are perfect for the fall. If this dish sounds familiar, it is a southern take off on Eggs Benedict. Enjoy!

Crispy Cornmeal Pancakes Topped with Sautéed Greens and Bacon Vinaigrette and Crowned with Poached Eggs

 

Bacon Vinaigrette

 

¼ pound thickly sliced bacon

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

 

1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp. Finely chop and transfer the bacon to a bowl. Save two teaspoons of the bacon drippings for the greens.

2. In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the vinegar, stock, lemon juice and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Remove skillet from the heat and whisk in mustards and chopped bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

 

Sautéed Greens

 

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons bacon drippings

1 cup chicken stock

1 clove garlic

1 large bunch favorite greens such as kale, turnip, collard, or mustard greens (stemmed and chopped)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1. In a large pot, heat canola oil, bacon drippings and chicken stock over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Add greens, cover, and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

 

Basic Cornmeal Pancakes

 

1 ¼ cups cornmeal

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 ¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs

canola oil for frying

 

1. In a large microwavable bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 1 ¼ cups buttermilk. Add the butter and mix. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 60 seconds. Let stand covered for 7 minutes (this helps soften the cornmeal).

2. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking

soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining buttermilk (½ cup) and two eggs.

4. Remove plastic wrap and whisk in the buttermilk/egg mixture. Then combine the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes.

5. In a large skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. These pancakes are not deep fried, but you want at least ¼-inch of oil to cover the pan. Use a tiny amount of the batter to test the oil.

6. Working in batches, drop batter by tablespoons into the skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on the top and the edges get golden brown and crispy. Flip and cook the other side. Repeat with the rest of the batter and add more canola oil if needed.

* It is important to note that the size of the pancakes is up to the individual chef.

 

Poached Eggs

 

12 large eggs

3 tablespoons white vinegar

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

1. Make sure eggs are fresh.

2. Add vinegar to a pan of steadily simmering water.

3. Crack eggs individually into a ramekin.

4. Lightly poach for 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen or paper towels.

 

Presentation

 

1. Place 2 crispy cornmeal pancakes on each serving plate. Add (drained) greens on top of the pancakes. Spoon on bacon vinaigrette. Crown each cornmeal pancake with a poached egg.

 

Secret Ingredient - Ancestry. “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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