february 21, 2014
It was a pancake kind of day. Chilly, with the last vestiges of snow tucked into the deep recesses of shrubbery. Pancakes by a crackling fire, with hot tea, fresh citrus and bacon.
Although I adore pancakes, they rarely get made in my kitchen. Delicious, but with a major sugar rush and the inevitable crash and somnolence, these dessert rounds masquerading as flapjacks are a little sweet for frequent enjoyment. But they can edge toward the savory side of life, with a little less sugar and the addition of crumbled bacon in the batter.
Keenbell Farm in nearby Rockville, Virginia, sells quality bacon and pasture eggs at my favorite local market, Little House Green Grocery. The Isbell family raises their animals in pasture, as nature intended, with very little interference from their human caretakers. The taste says it all. The bacon cooks perfectly and enhances these fluffy buttermilk pancakes with subtle flavor and texture. Pasture eggs also have a very different taste from their supermarket counterparts, and if you are not acquainted with the pleasure of true free range eggs, introduce yourselves and gain a life long friendship. Markets like Little House keep us city dwellers spoiled with healthy choices.
The bacon pancakes pictured were made with gluten free flour mix; there is no need to add xanthan gum for sturdy texture since they hold together perfectly well without stabilizers, turning out just as fluffy as their all purpose cousins. I prefer full fat buttermilk, but you can use lower fat versions, and substitute vegetable oil for the bacon grease. Bacon grease from pastured pork tastes phenomenally clean, smoky and pure and any left from your cooking will keep well in the refrigerator for future use. The best potatoes you will ever eat are fried or roasted in bacon grease. Like many a Southerner, my mom kept a little teacup of bacon grease at the ready by the stove, and we kids looked forward to her cubed potatoes cooked in the hefty cast iron skillet.
These pancakes may be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen, so a Sunday morning treat can be repeated on busy weekdays. They would pair well with ginger cinnamon applesauce. Your best bet is to flip these on an electric griddle, but stovetop griddle pans work well, too.
When you cook the diced bacon, be sure to stop before the bits get too crispy, as they will be tough and bitter – aim for brown but still tender to the tooth. Allow them to cool while you measure the rest.
bacon buttermilk pancakes
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
6 ounces thick sliced bacon, diced (about 1 ¼ cup)
1 ¼ cup gluten free or all purpose flour *
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
one large egg, room temperature
1 ⅓ cup buttermilk, preferably full fat
1 tablespoon bacon grease
* GF flour mix = 2 c white rice flour, ⅔ c potato starch, ⅓ c tapioca starch
- In heavy skillet over medium heat cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until browned but still tender (too crisp and bits will be stiff and bitter in the pancakes); drain bacon on paper towel and reserve drippings for future use, removing one tablespoon for pancake batter.
- Preheat electric griddle to 350, if using.
- In large mixing bowl whisk together dry ingredients.
- In separate mixing bowl, whisk egg with buttermilk and tablespoon of bacon grease.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the egg mixture, sprinkle over the cooled bacon bits, then gently fold all together. Avoid over mixing and don’t fret over a lumpy looking batter.
- Being careful to allow plenty of space between pancakes, spoon about ¼ cup of batter onto heated griddle or stovetop griddle pan for each pancake.
- Cook pancakes until bubbles form on the surface; at this point they should also be light brown on the bottom (you can peek if you are not sure).
- Flip pancakes and cook for one to one and a half minutes more; remove pancakes to plate as they cook and tent with foil to keep warm.