Monday, October 27, 2008

Pass the Syrup

When I told our house guest last weekend, Darren, that I was making Mac n Cheese Pancakes for breakfast, I didn't get an, "Oooh, that sounds interesting!" or even a grunt of approval. Instead: "Do you eat them with syrup? Because I am SO over pancakes you don't eat with syrup." Apparently Darren had been to some snooty establishment for brunch recently and ordered pancakes that came with a fruit compote. He asked the waiter for syrup and the waiter told him the restaurant didn't have syrup. That's what the compote was for. Excusez-moi.

No such pretentiousness here. The recipe for these pancakes comes from Kenny Shopsin, the locally famous, curmudgeonly short-order cook at Shopsin's General Store here in New York City. (Read my interview with him here.) I doubt Kenny would ever serve pancakes sans syrup (though he allows Lemon Ricotta Pancakes can go without). He's a fan of Grade B maple syrup (incidentally, he is unapologetic about using Aunt Jemima frozen pancake batter).

I was excited to make the mac n cheese pancakes because it also meant test-driving our new griddle. I made the pancake batter from HTCE, and once the griddle was hot enough that water drops bounced off of it, I dropped circles of pancake batter onto the griddle. After about two minutes, I spooned about a tablespoon of cooked, warm elbow macaroni onto the center of each pancake, and then topped it with a thin layer of feather-shredded cheddar cheese. I quickly flipped the pancakes and used the spatula to press them down on the griddle. Once the undersides were golden, about two minutes later, I used "a decisive high-pressure sawing motion to lift and turn the pancakes onto a plate, B-side up." (Don't you love Kenny's instructions?)

Watching this video, I realize I could've cooked the pancakes a little longer, so the cheese got crustier and the mac got oozier. No matter. We spread these babies with butter and poured warm syrup over them, and they were delicious. The macaroni added a different textural element, and the cheese gave them more bite than your average pancake. No pretentiousness here, just some excellent pancakes.--S

Mac ’n’ Cheese Pancakes

Peanut oil, for the griddle
Butter, for the griddle and serving
3 c pancake batter, like Aunt Jemima frozen batter, thawed, or homemade
1 heaping c cooked elbow macaroni, tossed with olive oil and warmed
1 1/4 c shredded cheddar
Grade B maple syrup

1. Clean the griddle by running an oily cloth over it. If the cloth snags, scrape to remove, then wipe down the griddle with peanut oil. Set the griddle over moderate heat.
2. Pour a thin layer of peanut oil over the griddle. Just before you drop the batter, run cold butter across the area where you are going to cook. When it bubbles, drop the batter in 4-inch circles and immediately raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, adjusting the heat as needed, until bubbles appear, 1 to 3 minutes.
3. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of warm macaroni on each pancake, then 1 tablespoon of cheddar. Using a thin metal spatula, quickly turn the pancakes and gently tap to make them uniform in thickness. Cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
4. Serve, macaroni-side up, with butter and warm maple syrup.

Recipe courtesy of Eat Me

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