Cornmeal Pancakes... and Some American History
- Apr 01, 2020
- David Wilhelm
I’ve always been a fan of corn in any form, and early on in my cooking career I often created dishes built around it in its differing forms.
At my Southwestern themed Kachina in Laguna Beach one of the most popular dishes was the Maine Lobster Burrito using a freshly made sweet corn crepe to encase lobster meat braised with fresh corn, Poblano chiles and fire-roasted peppers in a chipotle laced sherry cream sauce. Our house bread was warm blue corn muffins with orange-honey butter.
My BBQ Duck Torte layered with Fresh Corn Blini won 1st Place at a local culinary cook-off contest among OC Chefs…pre-Food Network madness.
Fun fact: Most culinary historians agree that the most traditional American food is cornmeal. Cornmeal began as a Native American staple. It was domesticated by Native Americans in about 5000 BC and since then has occupied a large role in their nutrition, religion and ritual. Colonists of Americas used corn as money and even traded corn for marriage licenses. Unlike modern cornmeal eaten in North America today, early versions were soaked in a mixture of water and ashes or ground limestone, so it was more like grits or hominy grits.
So back to my breakfast ‘go-to’ sweet dish: Cornmeal blueberry pancakes. Cutting the flour with cornmeal somehow lightens the batter, suspending the crunchy ground cornmeal with tangy buttermilk and creating a very unique texture and flavor that I think is far superior to regular flapjacks, but hey, give these a try and you be the judge.
I recommend topping them with a generous pat of butter and some Grade-B maple syrup. This syrup is made at the end of the sugaring season, just before the maple trees bud. Almost as dark as molasses, the very strong, intense flavor of Grade B has been described as “hard–core.” Traditionally considered a cooking–grade syrup, Grade B has gained popularity in recent years as a chef’s favorite, Artisanal table syrup. It’s difficult to find in markets but you can buy it on Amazon. I recommend Hidden Springs Organic Vermont Maple Syrup, Premium Grade B.
And of course, what are pancakes and syrup without some Applewood smoked bacon. Nueske’s is the one brand I always have in my fridge. It’s one of the most expensive brands on the market but it's strong, smokey flavor spoils you for anything else.
Makes about 7-8 pancakes
- 1/3 cup flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1-1/8 cups cornmeal – recommend Bob’s Red Mill – fine or medium grind
- 1 each egg, beaten
- 1-1/8 cups buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- 1 TBS sugar
- 1 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen (adjust amount of blueberries to your personal taste!)
- 1 TBS Canola oil or clarified butter...
I sometimes use whole butter... it turns into brown butter but that makes them even more delicious....
Combine flour, baking soda and cornmeal in bowl and whisk to combine well.
Add egg, buttermilk, vanilla, salt and sugar and stir untiljust mixed. Fold in blueberries (if using frozen do not thaw first).
Heat oil or butter in pan over low heat and ladle 1/3 cup per pancake. Cook until bubbles appear on top and then flip and cook 30-45 seconds more.
Stack, drizzle and chow!